Two Oxford City cycle paths are now on Google Street View
By Andy Chivers
Ignoring the harmful exhaust emissions for a moment, the car is a remarkable invention, combining freedom and security, effectively providing you with a house on wheels. But it is limited in one respect – it only runs on roads. In Oxford particularly, a bike offers many other ways to get from A to B that the car driver is denied.
One of the barriers to getting out of the car and onto the bike is simply not knowing that there are pleasant alternatives to the congested main road. Most people driving along Cowley Road, or Botley Road, just don’t know about the leafy alternative routes they could take if they were on a bike. From a car window, riding a bike along our main roads doesn’t look much fun, so Cyclox wanted to give people pictures of some of our most beautiful off-road cycle paths.
At a recent Cyclox conference Prof. Lynn Sloman listed several reasons why people don’t use their bikes for short everyday journeys. Unfortunately, all of them need to be overcome before the bike gets a chance. We felt that we could address one of the reasons at least.
Thanks to a generous donor and the hard work of a local 360⁰ photograph expert (contact us for details), we have added two of Oxford’s walking and cycling routes to Google Street View. Now, for the first time, you can see what these routes are like before venturing out to walk or cycle them; you can experience the journey virtually, so you know what to expect.
Moreover, planners, council officers and local councillors can see what these routes look like and better understand their potential. Local users can share them with others and perhaps demonstrate the need for improvements. We hope that this will encourage more people to walk and cycle along Oxford’s beautiful alternatives to the main roads.
The first route runs behind Cowley Marsh from Bartlemas Close, through wooded paths and playing fields to Barracks Lane, taking you up to Hollow Way. It’s an ideal way to get to the school, or leisure centre there. The second is more rural, following an early route over the Thames flood plain along Willow Walk, reputedly restored by John Ruskin 150 years ago. It runs from the end of Ferry Hinksey Road to North Hinksey Road. It also connects to the side streets on the south of Botley Rd. Riding along it you could be 100 miles from the congested traffic of Botley Road.
We would like to create similar Street View images along the Marston Meadows and University Parks route and other relatively unknown sections, such as by Hinksey Lakes in South Oxford, or along the river from St Ebbes to Gibbs Crescent.
To view these on your computer, open Google Maps and click on the yellow ‘Pegman’ icon in the bottom-right corner. Drop the icon on Barracks Lane cycle path, or Willow Walk and move along by clicking on the path ahead of you: then get on your bike, and experience them for real.