People from around the county are being asked for their views on a number of walking and cycling changes.

Witney and Bicester residents are being asked for their views on recent transport improvements and what leaders can do to make walking and cycling easier, as part of a study supported by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).

Those who use local routes to get to work, including travelling to train stations three or more days a week, or older adults aged 65 to 75 are being sought for their views.

They are invited to an hour-long focus group in Bicester or Witney to discuss the changes and whether transport plans would encourage them to walk and cycle more.

The University of Bristol and Oxfordshire County Council research study is funded by the NIHR Public Health Intervention Responsive Studies Teams (PHIRST) scheme which evaluates practical interventions to improve public health decision making.

While getting people to walk and cycle in cities is well-researched, less research has been undertaken in market towns.

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In Bicester, changes to improve walking and cycling connectivity from Middleton Stoney Road in the west to the town centre, via Oxford Road and Kings End include an off-road shared-use footway and cycleway, better signage and reduced speed limits.

Other plans include ‘bike library’ cycle borrow schemes, free bike repairs, training and walking and cycling groups.

Participants must have good mobility, live and travel independently and safely and not already walk or cycle frequently.

There will be a maximum of ten participants and the researcher in each group and participants will be offered a £30 Love-To-Shop voucher.

Researchers are also looking to accompany residents on their local journeys with a follow-up interview, later in the year.

There will also be another meeting in Witney and Bicester to share early study findings.

The study’s lead researcher Tricia Jessiman said: “A lot of research has been done on how to encourage walking and cycling in cities and large towns, but very little is known about market towns.

“I hope this study will help inform how to make it easier for residents in Witney and Bicester to choose to walk or cycle as a viable alternative to the car.”

Councillor Andrew Gant, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “We know that infrastructure improvements are essential to promoting active travel, but people face many other barriers to cycling and walking.

“This study provides an important opportunity for local people to explain in detail what would make a difference to them and it will help Oxfordshire County Council to improve the support we offer and the network changes we deliver.”

To find out more, contact Tricia Jessiman at or 07977 902012.


Read more from this author

This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing:

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1

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