In Oxford, it is often said that the bikes, if not the pedestrians, rule the roads! By any measure, cars seem to come last in the pecking order: behind buses, cyclists and pedestrians, cars come a healthy fourth place. Quite right. Oxford has always been a city full of cycling culture and recent initiatives have made efforts to ensure that this remains the case. There is a twenty mile per hour speed limit in central Oxford, designed to make cycling safer, as well as investment in more bus services to cut down on car use in the city.
The statistics are certainly impressive: it is estimated that thirty thousand people cycle in Oxford each day! Further, just shy of twenty percent of commuting journeys within the city are by bike. This is the second-highest rate of any local authority in the country, second only to Cambridge, the university’s long-time rival. Perhaps then, it is the student population who bring out the bikes each day. You’ll not make it down a single street without seeing a student cycling to a lecture – or perhaps to the pub – robes trailing behind in exaggerated cape fashion. I’ve heard rumours of regular student ‘pub crawls’ on bikes too!
Oxford is certainly a healthy and active city, continuing to make positive improvements to ensure the safety and priority of both cyclists and pedestrians. It even has its own OxonBike scheme, a ‘Boris Bike’ equivalent bike renting programme. Despite a notable lack of a suited-up Boris Johnson pedalling down the city’s cobbled streets- as he often does with the scheme’s London counterpart, I’m assured OxonBikes are just as useful and fun for short cycle rides within Oxford!
It is perhaps a little ironic then that our day tour of Oxford takes place on foot! We cycle through the morning visiting the village of Bampton, elevated to international fame with the hugely popular Downton Abbey television series, before driving into Oxford – avoiding cycling on the very busy road that leads to the city. Our walking tour of Oxford’s city centre allows us to walk into some of the city’s most impressive buildings, colleges, churches and libraries. A popular stop on our tour is Christchurch College, a magnificent golden college founded in 1546, whose alumni include a staggering thirteen British Prime Ministers, with Oxford University as a whole having educated twenty-seven of our Prime Ministers.
A strong favourite on our tour is the Bodleian Library, one of the oldest public libraries in the world holding over eleven million printed items. You might recognise famous scenes and buildings from Harry Potter, filmed in various locations around Oxford, and gain some insight into the lives and influences of the likes of J. R. R. Tolkein and C.S. Lewis who both studied here and walked these same streets to and from their favourite pub, the Eagle and Child.
Read more about our other popular cycle tour destinations including Downton Abbey, Bath and Stratford-Upon-Avon.