New protected bike lanes are urgently needed to stop Oxford and Cambridge “seizing up”, a new report written for the National Infrastructure Commission recommends.

Chief executive Philip Graham said Running out of Road, published today, “highlights the important role cycling could play in connecting communities”.

The study, by former Transport for London cycling commissioner Andrew Gilligan, highlights the need to increase the number of journeys that are made by bike by improve cycling infrastructure, with new separated cycle tracks on main roads, new off-road routes and remodelled junctions to make them safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

To do this, it calls on the Government to provide an extra £200million for the work, if both Oxford and Cambridge agree to the plans and take other measures to cut traffic by 15 per cent over the next four years – such as road closures, a congestion charge or a workplace parking levy. All of these are being considered in one or both of these cities.

The report also recommends major improvements to Milton Keynes’s cycle routes.

Chief executive of the National Infrastructure Commission Philip Graham said:

“Creating thriving and liveable communities supported by the right infrastructure is essential to safeguard prosperity of one of the most economically important regions in the country. Maintaining its global lead in science and technology means retaining the brightest and best and providing them with new places to live and accessible routes to work.

“This report highlights the important role cycling could play in connecting communities. We hope local leaders consider its recommendations as part of their development of an integrated transport strategy for the Growth Arc.”

Report author Andrew Gilligan said:

“Without transport improvements, Oxford and Cambridge will seize up. But none of the usual improvements work.

“New roadbuilding within these cities is impossible. Light rail is expensive and slow to deliver. There isn’t even room in the centres of these cities for more buses.

“But one simple answer is staring Oxford and Cambridge in the face: the bicycle. Getting more people to cycle is the quickest, cheapest, and least disruptive way to relieve pressure on their roads.”

Commuting on two wheels

Oxford and Cambridge are already Britain’s top cycling cities: 43 per cent of all commuter journeys within Cambridge are made by bike, and 25 per cent of all commuter journeys within Oxford.

However, the report finds that roads in the two cities, particularly Oxford’s, are still designed almost entirely for cars. This means that there is still significant potential to grow cycling.

The report‘s recommendations include:

  • The creation of five high-quality segregated or low-traffic routes in and around Oxford, several of them continuing beyond the city boundary to Eynsham, Kidlington and Wheatley
  • Improving the standard of the main road routes in Cambridge and constructing a network of cross-country routes serving the necklace of villages around the city
  • The creation of an east-west city centre route in Milton Keynes.

Running out of road was one of a number of independent reports commissioned by the National Infrastructure Commission for the report, Partnering for Prosperity – a new deal for the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford Growth Arc, published in November 2017

The winner of the National Infrastructure Commission’s Growth Arc Ideas Competition – which sought innovative design for new communities in the region – was won by the VeloCity team with their vision of a cluster of villages within easy cycling and walking distance of each other.