Oxford has a lot of buses – so many, in fact, that the County Council had to step in to reduce the number making their way down ‘the High’ (Oxford’s High Street). The two bus companies now train their drivers in cycle awareness, which has made for a great improvement. But Oxford’s streets are narrower than London’s, and bus/bike lanes are rare: everyone has to share the road. So keep your wits about you on busy corridors like the Cowley Road, a mêlée of bus stops, meandering pedestrians, and arcing cyclists; and particularly on crammed city centre streets like George Street.
The city now has a near-blanket 20mph limit and, belatedly, Thames Valley Police has consented to enforce it. It doesn’t make much difference in the congested centre, but has calmed residential roads a little.
Two crucial city centre shopping streets, Cornmarket and Queen Street, are closed to bikes during the daytime – even though Queen Street admits buses. It means that planning a route across the city centre requires a bit of thought. Sorry Oxford, but Cambridge definitely has the edge here. The terrain is pretty flat – you can thank the rivers Thames and Cherwell for that – unless you venture out to Headington, on the city’s only significant hill, and the location of the JR Hospital.