Ellen writes… It seems amazing that we are fast approaching the last month of the year! We have recently been looking back at the last year (October 2016 – September 2017) in order to report on our activities to our parent group, Oxford Cycling UK, at their recent AGM. I’m really happy to say that we have been going from strength to strength. All our regular rides have had increased attendance and I hope that you’ve had as many memorable moments on the rides that you’ve taken part in as I’ve had. I’d urge you all to look at the “year in the life” page on our website that shows you what we’ve got up to over the last 12 months!
Isis riders undeterred by frost and mist last winter!
I’d also like to draw your attention to our recently updated page with hints and tips about cycling in the winter. The winter is a wonderful time for cycling, with the countryside raked with a low sun and more open and visible with the leaves gone from trees and hedgerows. However being suitably kitted out makes a huge difference to your comfort on a bike and makes all the unique sights and smells of winter more enjoyable.
As we like to keep our members up to date with the various cycling campaigns and happenings in and around Oxford, this month I asked John Blackie, from the Bikesafe campaign, to give us an update on progress being made to get a shared use off-road path between Botley and Eynsham. Those of you who have been riding with us on the very rare occasions we use the B4044 Farmoor road will appreciate what a boon a safe off-road path would be. It would certainly make accessing countryside to the west of Oxford much safer. Check out John’s update.
We are all very excited that our 10th birthday next summer will be celebrated with a weekend away at Brazier’s Park near Ipsden in South Oxfordshire. Hopefully it will be bigger and even better (can it be possible??) than last year’s event at Lechlade. Details will be sent round very, very soon, after which booking will be open. I’m certainly planning to be there and I’m sure it will be one of the highlights of my cycling year.
Finally, you will notice that this month’s rides have a definite Christmas shopping kind of theme! Whether it’s a pudding for your Christmas meal, some booze to oil the festivities or a few last minute presents you need, you’ll find that the Isis rides can provide it all!!!!
Have a wonderful Christmas and a very happy and peaceful New Year of cycling.
SATURDAY 2nd DECEMBER: SLOW AND STEADY: EAST OXFORD MEANDER
Today’s ride will visit three venues where you can stock up on things you might need for Christmas. We’ll meet in Broad Street, outside the Sheldonian at 9.45am, to start at 10am. We’ll take a winding route through East Oxford and Littlemore, to Sandford Market, where Ellen recommends the Christmas puddings, and we can have coffee and cake. We’ll then return around the edge of Rose Hill, through Iffley Village and along the towpath to Sarah Spackman’s workshop, where she has a Christmas show. We’ll finish up at the Green Fair in the Town Hall, always an enjoyable event, and where we may find someone promoting Isis on a stall with Cyclox. You can also get vegetarian lunches there if you wish. The ride is just over 9 miles, with some short and shallow hills for added interest, and should take no more than 3 hours including the stops. The ride leader is Jane Carlton Smith.
SATURDAY 9th DECEMBER: MEDIUM RIDE: WORTON ORGANIC GARDENS
Meet in Radcliffe Square, Oxford from 10.45am for an 11am departure. We will leave Oxford via the University Parks cycle track, the Marston Ferry Rd track, Summertown and Cutteslowe. We will then head to Wolvercote where (weather permitting) we will pick up the canal towpath and A44 cycle track to Yarnton and our refreshment stop at Worton Organic Gardens. Hot drinks, cakes and light lunches will be available. Why not strap on an extra pannier and treat yourself to some fresh, organic seasonal veg? The route home will take us into Cassington and back to Oxford along the A40 cycle track. We will return to the town centre via the Cutteslowe cycle bridge and the cycle route east of Summertown and down through N. Oxford. The ride is mainly flat (so heavy vegetables are not off limits!) and the total ride distance is 17 miles. The ride leader will be Ellen Lee.
SATURDAY 16th DECEMBER: LONG RIDE: ABINGDON & BOTHY VINEYARD
Meet in Broad Street, outside the Sheldonian at 10:45am for a 11am departure. We will leave Oxford using the river towpath and the cycle tracks of Sustrans route 5 to Abingdon where we will stop for refreshments.
We will then head out to Frilford Heath on quieter roads and visit the Bothy Vineyard which has a range of small gifts and beers as well as wines on sale for Christmas, before returning to Oxford centre. We won’t be cycling more than 22-23 miles and there are no big hills, so bring your panniers for any purchases. The ride leader is Lucy Tennyson.
SUNDAY 31st DECEMBER: OXFORD CYCLING UK RIDE TO LUNCH AT ASTON POTTERY
Isis cyclists are invited to take part in the Oxford Cycling UK ride on New Year’s Eve. What a perfect opportunity to do something healthy before the New Year Celebrations start! The ride will depart Broad St, Oxford (outside Oxford Campus Stores) at the slightly later than usual time of 10am. Sue Altman will be leading the ride which will be at the usual group pace (average of ~11.5mph). The route there will be slightly circuitous via places such as Bladon, Freeland, North Leigh and Witney and will be 23 miles long. The plan is to arrive for lunch around 12-12.15pm. The return route will be shorter (~16 miles) via Stanton Harcourt and Eynsham. So the ride will be a bit less than 40 miles in total. More details will be available on the Oxford Cycling UK website nearer the time.
B4044 BOTLEY TO EYNSHAM PATH CAMPAIGN: UPDATE
Bikesafe is a charity which for the last 5 years has been campaigning for a shared use path to be built between Botley and Eynsham alongside the B4044. You’ve probably ridden along this road and wished you hadn’t, or driven along it and seen how vulnerable cyclists are along this route. At the moment around 100 to 150 cycling journeys are made per day along it. Once the path is built, we think that that’ll increase to 500 to 600 minimum. This gives economic benefits sufficient to pay for itself three times over in a period of just over 10 years. Details are in the business plan which was published early in 2017 and is available to see on the Bikesafe website.
Very recently, at the beginning of October, the Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet approved an application to the Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) for money to build or improve roads and paths at 3 major housing developments in the County. One of those is the A40 through Eynsham up to the Wolvercote roundabout. Crucially the application includes money for the B4044 Eynsham to Botley path. This is the first time the County have recognised and responded to the B4044 path campaign positively and so is a major event and breakthrough. There are no promises that the application will be successful in whole or in part so we have to wait until sometime in the first quarter of 2018 to hear the outcome.
The donation we received earlier in the year has enabled us to start the formal process of applying for planning permission. Our application will include not only the route from Dean Court to Eynsham but also outline permission for the Path to continue from the Eynsham/Siemens roundabout North up to the A40. The application has to be made to both the Vale of White Horse and to the West Oxfordshire district council. The purpose of doing this is to have a shovel ready plan available for the County to use when and if the Government comes up with some money for cycling.
Local MPs and Councillors
The campaign has received enormous support from three new local MPs, two of whose constituencies include the B4044 path. They have one thing in common – they ride bicycles routinely for leisure and for getting about.
Layla Moran (MP Oxford West and Abingdon) mentioned Bikesafe and the B4044 Path campaign in the House Transport Committee.
Robert Courts, MP for Witney met the campaign members at the Talbot during a snowstorm in January and he rode a portion of the route. He has now joined the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG). This is a pressure group of like-minded MPs which is influential at Government level. Layla Moran is a vice chairman of the APPCG.
Anneliese Dodds, MP for East Oxford is a firm supporter of cycling as a form of sustainable transport and therefore of the B4044 path too.
In addition, the County Councillor for Witney North & East Division, Dr Suzanne Bartington, has been appointed as the County Cycling Champion. We believe that she, with others, was instrumental in getting the B4044 path included into the HIF application reported at the beginning of this article. She knows that riding a bicycle is health promoting, valuable to the individual and to the economy and the way local personal transport should be heading.
You can follow the B4044 path campaign on Twitter (@B4044path) and Facebook (B4044path) and the website is http://www.b4044path.org/