Cycling between Witney and Carterton is often an unpleasant experience because no safe cycle route connects them. Whichever way you go involves a long section of busy road with motor vehicles travelling at 50mph or more. Is there a solution?
In its document detailing Local Transport Plan Area Strategies, the County Council have a ‘cycle premium route’ pencilled in along the B4477 from the roundabout at the northern end of Brize Norton to the A40 at the southern end of Minster Lovell – the pink line on the map.
This will likely be a shared path which will connect Brize and Carterton with: Minster Lovell, the Sustrans NCN57 route out along the Windrush Valley to Burford, and the cycle path into Witney. It is probably dependant on funding from the developer of the beige area on the map, and I’m not sure when it will be built, but I would guess it’s 2-3 years away at best.
There is another solution that could be implemented within weeks rather than years, and it’s been made possible by the building of the Downs Road – A40 roundabout. With the new junction there are now two parallel travel routes between Brize and Curbridge. By closing one to motorised traffic except for access it creates a direct, low traffic route for cycling at a very low cost.
One of the down sides is a longer journey time for motorised traffic, Google Maps says 4 minutes rather 3 minutes, which may affect the bus timetables, but to put that in context it’s minor compared to the future detour bikes will be expected to take via Minster Lovell when the ‘cycle premium route’ is built.
That’s not to say the route between Carterton/Brize and Minster Lovell isn’t required to connect them together and to the Windrush Valley, it’s just not the direct route that’s needed to make cycling between Witney and Carterton a realistic option for most people beyond leisure cycling.
This direct route between the centres of Witney and Carterton via Witney Road is 5.7 miles, compared to 6.7 miles via the future route through Minster Lovell, and because it lies on the S1/S2 bus route provides a realistic alternative to public transport during the current crisis for those who want to cycle.
If this were implemented it would also require the cycling infrastructure promised by the Windrush Place development to be built, to make the route from West Witney into the town centre safe for cycling.