Oxfordshire’s transport arrangements are strained. The annual budget for maintenance is £15 million.[1] For context, this is double the amount cut from children’s services in 2016, reducing children’s centres from 51 to 8.[2] Yet this is only a fraction of the estimated £400 million needed to put the county’s road infrastructure right.[3] Added to this is the 40% growth in population expected by 2040.[4] Without changes, this means a tremendous consumption of the county’s financial resources while paving over more of Oxfordshire’s green spaces and widening existing roads, while continuing to suffer connectivity failure.[5]

This failure relates to the low efficiency of single-occupant car travel. The 13-mile journey from Witney to Oxford takes an estimated 1 hour and 15 minutes on any weekday morning.[6] By contrast, the ten-mile car journey from Houten to Utrecht (Netherlands) takes an estimated 30 minutes. The reason: appealing alternatives. Every 15 minutes a train takes travelers from Houten Station to Utrecht, with a journey time of 10 minutes. Likewise there is a safe, mostly segregated cycle route connecting the two. Advances in electric bicycles bring such commutes more easily within reach of a wide range of ages and abilities.[7]

[1] Oxfordshire County Council, Highways Maintenance Programme 2016/17-2017/18. See Page 155 here.

[2] Oxfordshire County Council, Cabinet Papers, “Future Arrangements in Children’s Social Care“, Report by Director for Children’s Services (15/9/15)

[3] “Oxfordshire’s crumbling network needs solution fast warn councillors“, Oxford Mail (31/3/18).

[4] Oxfordshire Growth Board (2016), “Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy“.

[5] Unfortunately, new roads create new demand for roads. See Downs (1962) for early evidence, Hills (1996) and Goodwin (1996) for UK settings, and Zolnik (2018) for a recent discussion.

[6] Data from Google Maps; see https://goo.gl/DVY2iN.

[7] Could intercity cycle highways revolutionise the daily commute?“, Guardian (30/6/16).