Bikes, bikes, everywhere - whether you think they're a necessity for survival or just a nuisance, Oxford is full of them. The narrow streets, flat landscape and high student population make cycling the perfect way to get around.
If you've limited time and strong legs, then what better way could there be to see Oxford than by bike? Walking tours are fine, but naturally limited to the city centre. Hop on a bike with a company like Bainton Bikes, and you can cover several times the ground, and take in remarkable views.
Bikes fill the city. The local population rely on them, and you'll see the most amazing creations, with extra bits tagged on for carrying shopping, children, or even dogs. Whole advertising hoardings are attached to the back of a bike.
G&D's run a bicycle ice-cream stand down on St Aldate's. Vaults Garden Café advertises itself with one. There's even a pub (established 2009) called the Rusty Bicycle, about a mile out of the city centre, on Magdalen Road.
You can get going from arrival, as there's a 'Boris bike' concept; Bromptons (fold-up bikes) can be hired at the station for as little as £2.50 per day and returned to any other docking station in the scheme. They're a great lightweight way to travel around town, with limited storage issues. You can always hire bikes normally too, from Bainton's or other companies around town.
One Oxford tour guide has advertising bikes all round town
If you take a wrong turn while you're cycling, you can't go too far before realising, making Oxford a safe and simple place to explore as a newcomer. The ringroad makes sure you stay within three miles of the city centre at any given point, so you can guarantee some exercise, but not too much!
For the more adventurous cyclist, there are town clubs running long-distance cycles out through the countryside. Isis, for example, is a women-only club, but there are plenty, for everyone. See Cycling Oxford for a list. For the more competitive rider, Bike Oxford has even become a new event starting 7th September 2014. It offers marked rides of 20, 50 and 80 miles taking in the best scenery of Oxford and the surrounding countryside.
Safety is always an issue with bikes. Online guides will give you the basic, such as Cycling Oxford. Do use a good bike lock. Do wear a helmet. Accidents are commonplace in Oxford and you want to be protected. Lights after dark are mandatory and the police will stop errant cyclists. One final warning. Beware cobbles!