Councillor Louise Upton
Oxford’s Champion of Cycling

When Oxford City Council recently unveiled “Oxford is a Cycling City” signs on every major road into the city, it was a statement of intent.

It was part of the Council’s long term transport strategy, which proposes to replicate the commuter cycle rate in its twinned city Leiden, in the Netherlands.  Overall the Council hopes to increase the number of commuters who cycle to work from 17% to 70%.

The new Bike Off event can be another step towards our goal of making Oxford one of the world’s great cycling cities.

Cycling is already such an important part of Oxford life. And we can build on this for the better of our city and our visitors. In fact there are so many things in the city that could be put right if only more people cycled … Things like congestion, pollution, fitness and health.

But there’s more to it than that. For me, cycling is all about equality too.  Bikes are a great leveller. They are cheap to own, and easy to use.  When I cycle around the city, I’m in the same company as people from all walks of life.

And, with the new dockless cycle schemes recently launched in Oxford by various companies you can even rent well-maintained bikes for a small fee.

Anything that puts more people onto bikes is a good thing, as far as I’m concerned.

Creativity and cross-community cohesion

Oxford is already home to a number of other bike events, each with their own different focus and appeal. It’s great that all of these various events complement each other.

What really grabbed my attention about the Bike Off project was both the link to creativity and the inclusiveness.  The event is organised by the Ark-T Centre in Cowley, which uses creativity to change lives. They are specifically encouraging people from all parts of the wider Oxford community to come together in this event.   I know that the Centre has been running workshops for disadvantaged youngsters to help them customise bikes kindly donated by Trax.

And it’s great that the event is actively encouraging people from the disabled community to be involved too.

Ambitious plans for an ambitious City

These are really ambitious aims but then the City’s plans for cycling in Oxford are ambitious too !  We wish the Bike Off every success and we can’t wait to see not only what the incredibly creative and imaginative people of Oxford can come up with  but also a wide range of our community getting involved in this unique new event.