Connecting Oxford Plus

Connecting Oxford is the city and county councils’ proposal to improve transportation in Oxford. It (1) takes through-car traffic out of the city centre and (2) takes through-traffic out of the inner ring-road (B4495). Both of these would be accomplished by ANPR cameras to allow transit of permitted vehicles (in particular, buses, hence “bus gates”). A workplace parking levy would apply to larger employers along the B4495. This would simultaneously discourage car use and help pay for a new bus route along the B4495, linking the northern park and rides to the park and ride at Redbridge in the south.

The proposal survived a public survey in autumn 2019, clearing the way for more detailed planning in winter 2020. Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

COVID-19

The novel coronavirus pandemic makes Connecting Oxford all the more important — but also unworkable in its current form.

Put simply, the plan is an incomplete version of one that could enable far greater use of COVID-19-ready modes of transport — cycling and walking — plus massively increased bus usage in a public-transport-ready state of the world.

The logical improvement to is to upgrade Connecting Oxford by adding two more bus gates in East Oxford. We believe both councils need to review this with urgency. We believe this modification will be consistent with the Autumn 2019 Connecting Oxford survey results and with both councils’ cabinet endorsements given that all of these were qualified by language to the effect that ‘additional restrictions may have to be considered to deal with excessive displacement of traffic’. Moreover, the councils can cite Department for Transport instructions to take such action with urgency.

Two more bus gates

Two additional bus gates are needed to prevent heavy use of south-east Oxford corridors Iffley and Cowley roads to avoid the Hollow Way bus gate. The locations of these two gates are:

  • London Place and
  • Warneford Lane.

As shown in the map below, the current drive-time reported by Google Maps between A34/Southern-bypass and the JR Hospital is 12 minutes by Iffley Road versus 14 minutes by London Road. Without bus gates on St Clements (just south of Marston Road) and Warneford Lane, these will be default options once Hollow Way is bus-gated.

Win-win

The existing version of Connecting Oxford has five bus gates: three to remove through-traffic from the city centre and two to prioritise bus passage along the B4495. The proposed version has seven, adding gates east and west of South Park. This effectively segments the city within the outer ring road into four zones as shown in the maps. The councils need not adopt an explicit “zoning” element in the language of Connecting Oxford if this is too big a departure from the Connecting Oxford plan that was put to survey in autumn 2019. Explicitly “zoned” or not, this seven-gate approach will have the virtues of zoned systems put to use to great effect elsewhere.

One of the key virtues is massive increment to cycling modal share, which is exactly what the central government is calling for right now. The city of Ghent in Belgium discovered that its zoned system, implemented in 2017, induced a cycling modal share by 2019 that wasn’t expected until 2030. Put simply: When private cars are comprehensively discouraged, the added space for other modes induces the use of them. But Ghent drivers also discovered they could get to their destinations faster because the reduced congestion more than made up for the more circuitous routes. Zoned systems give space to drive for those who need it.

We describe the seven-gate plan as “win-win” because this plan not only helps enable COVID-19-ready forms of sustainable transport right now, it also sets the scene for an even better bus network in future. The numbers 4, 8, 9, and 13 bus routes pass through the anticipated extra bus gates, as do several routes further afield. Moreover, bus travel along Cowley and Iffley roads (routes 1, 3, 5, 10 and 16, as well as routes further afield) will be massively enhanced by the reduction in private-car volume on these two roads if bus gates are introduced on London Place and Warneford Lane.

The map below shows in detail the location of the two additional bus gates needed in Connecting Oxford.

Connecting Oxford and other elements of transport improvement

We recognise that both councils are pushing ahead with a wide array of transport improvements with sustainability at their heart. We applaud them for this. Examples include the adoption of an Oxford LCWIP (pdf) (which has been cited nationally for its ambition), application to central government to fund the LCWIP, expansion of the Zero Emission Zone, deployment of cargo-bike delivery prioritisation, and many others. Below, we highlight two more.

City council “Wish list”

On May 11, Oxford City Council published a wish list of public-realm improvements to help kick-start the city centre economy and to contribute to public health in the long term. These include the decades-overdue de-motorisation of Broad Street. We urge the county council to add some of these “wish list” improvements to Connecting Oxford and, if necessary, re-run the survey. Experience shows that the public are more amenable to grand transport plans when they are seen to give significant public realm improvements to the public whilst also making demands of the public in terms of upending decades-old patterns of travel.

Liveable neighbourhoods

In addition to having endorsed the best LCWIP in the country, the county council have just finished an engagement exercise on the long-term vision for transport. Among the many concepts in the long-term vision is the “Low-traffic neighbourhood” (which we call a liveable neighbourhood, or LN). The final form of Connecting Oxford has particular relevance to the prioritisation of LNs:

_ Adoption of the seven-gated version of Connecting Oxford makes Headington Quarry the priority for LN treatment. This area is already overrun by extra-neighbourhood car journeys — journeys that neither originate nor terminate in the Quarry area. An LN here should cover a roughly 1 sq-km area and will be even more crucial given the added pressure to reach Headington workplaces and the JR hospital by private car. Such journeys need to be routed onto the proper through-route arterial infrastructure. Traffic evaporation will prevent such routes from experiencing the ‘gridlock’ that many will fear will result from a Quarry LN.

_ Adoption of the existing five-gated version of Connecting Oxford means LN treatment will be urgent in several East Oxford neighbourhoods, in addition to Quarry in Headington. Already, in East Oxford alone, LN campaigns are springing up in: Divinity-Road area; St Marys Ward area; Florence Park, and Church Cowley area. Each of these will need modal filtering to deal with the increased pressures of through-traffic trying to reach Headington and Marston from the south of Oxford (and vice-versa).

The moment for leadership

Oxfordshire Liveable Streets and our partners in the Coalition for Healthy Streets and Active Travel (CoHSAT) enthusiastically welcomed the councils’ ambition when Connecting Oxford was unveiled in summer 2019. As of now, spring/summer 2020, the context has changed in ways that we will only begin fully to appreciate in the months and years to come. We urge our leaders to revisit their pre-COVID-19 plans, upgrade them in the key ways we’ve outlined, and if necessary re-engage the public on them. The situation demands nothing less.

Oxford is considering creating more city-centre space for people on foot and on cycle. The way to do this is by limiting the usage of city-centre streets by private motor traffic. This can be done via ANPR cameras at strategic points to enforce no-entry to private cars except those with exemptions.

A full discussion of the proposals is here, including details of the possible exempt categories of automobiles, hours of operation, location of ANPR cameras, etc. Note: The ANPR camera-control points are known as “bus gates”.
https://www.oxford.gov.uk/news/article/1496/councils_share_updates_on_temporary_bus_gates_proposals

Have you wondered why so many European cities manage to have space in the centre for people to relax and for cafes to have plentiful outdoor seating? Places with big pedestrian plazas? The reason they manage it is because they restrict access by car to the city centre. Now is our chance to do the same.

If you want to see the councils adopt these strategies, you need to complete the council’s consultation survey NOW. Survey closes at 11:59 PM on Sunday, August 9.

The survey can be found here: https://consultations.oxfordshire.gov.uk/consult.ti/oxfordbusgates/consultationHome

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For inspiration, look to the city of Ghent in Belgium.

And you can hear more about Ghent’s traffic circulation and how it has benefited Ghent during recovery from COVID-19 from the deputy of mayor of Ghent here:

https://www.crowdcast.io/e/connecting-oxford-meets

Oxfordshire Liveable Streets hosted a forum on the business impacts associated with low-traffic neighbourhoods.

What impact will Low Traffic Neighbourhoods have on your business?

You can now see the business forum online here: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/businesses-and-low

Here are some of the testimonials read out during the session. These businesses are located on the Francis Road or Orford Road in Waltham Forest.

Fraser McLelland, Froth and Rind:

Traffic reduction measures have had a huge positive impact on our business, allowing Orford Road to become a safe destination for families out for a meal, friends meeting for a coffee, shoppers and more. With more space for outside seating, the summer months have a continental feel with lots of people dining outside or stocking up on provisions.

Eliza Parkes, Yardarm:

We opening our business in 2015 on a busy road. Very often we had cars and vans parked outside.On the upside was that people could drive to collect orders and deliveries were easy. (This is actually still the case and we are also improving our own delivery service)

When the plans were announced we were happy. Dans family have a business on Orford Rd in Walthamstow and had benefited from the scheme. We had seen the problems there too but each time they repeat the scheme they seem to be ironing out the kinks (mainly about redirecting traffic)

We have found it positive. At weekends families take over the road and it’s easy and safe to spend longer hanging out and shopping. We have been busier. It’s also great for events and we think there is a stronger sense of community once everyone is used to it. Deliveries haven’t been a problem (but ask them to make provision in the plans. This has been the hardest part for us with lots of big deliveries to our wine shop and deli.)

As parents, business owners and residents on the road, it’s life changing. The air is cleaner and it feels so much safer. GO FOR IT.

Aimée Madill, Phlox Books

Pedestrianisation has been overwhelmingly beneficial to my business personally, and I believe the general feeling of community and unity in our diverse neighbourhood. People, both immediately local and from further away, view it as a one stop ‘destination’ and are often seen pottering from shop to shop. With its relaxed, car-free atmosphere it encourages them to stop to eat and drink, and creates a street that is not only a destination for relaxation but becomes their first thought when they need to purchase specific items.

Concerns and complaints that it would ‘kill off’ shops that relied on passing trade and had items that needed to be transported by car were soon shown to be unfounded as the street is busier as a pleasant ‘destination’ than it ever was as a through road and the reality is that few had items large enough to need transport/could become innovative with local eco-friendly delivery services on the few occasions that they were.

Helen Clarke, Edie Rose

Since the pedestrianisation of Francis Road we are able to present our business outside the shop as well as in. Before, the parked cars (always the same parked cars) came right up to our outside space and we couldn’t put anything outside as it would be blocking the pavement. Cars would speed past at high speed and the road was used was a little bit of a rabbit run to cut out the main road.

Francis Road is now a community hub with seating and places to relax. Cafes and shops have seating outside and children play on the street. If feels safe and calm. Pollution is low and our business has been affected positively in terms of sales/revenue because customers spend more time on the road.

We use our cargo bike for local deliveries and use the loading bays and 2 hour parking slots for when we need to accept bigger deliveries. It really does work.

Updates, news and online-meeting information related to proposals to create three emergency liveable neighbourhoods for Cowley — in Church Cowley, Florence Park and Temple Cowley — are detailed on the Cowley Liveable Neighbourhoods page: oxlivsts.org.uk/cowley

Please feel free to use the space below to post your comments and questions. All views are important and welcome. (Abusive comments will not be posted.)

1 June 2020

Yvonne Constance OBE
Cabinet Member for Environment
Oxfordshire County Council

Re: Emergency Active Travel Funding

Dear Councillor Constance,

The undersigned organisations – Oxfordshire Liveable Streets, Oxford Friends of the Earth and Oxford Civic Society – are delighted to see that the funding allocation made to Oxfordshire by the Department for Transport (DfT) recognises the particular challenges faced by Oxfordshire with its dependence on public transport.  And we support the initiatives already suggested by the council, such as extending 20mph speed limits, installing new cycle parking, and implementing School Streets schemes. But these initiatives do not go far enough to meet the guidelines from DfT for the funding. So we would like to offer some suggestions as to how Oxford City’s share of the funding could be best used.

The DfT letter of 27 May announcing the Emergency Active Travel Funding Indicative Allocations explicitly recommends: “closing roads to through traffic and installing segregated cycle lanes and widening pavements”, “reallocation of road space on strategic corridors”, and “point closures”. It urges local authorities to “act now to embed walking and cycling as part of new long-term commuting habits”.  But there is also the constraint that work needs to be started within four weeks and completed within eight weeks; there is a recommendation that local authorities implement “schemes already planned in Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans” (LCWIPs).

We hope the planning already under way is integrated and strategic, and support interventions being coordinated in a few larger projects. Individual point closures may have little effect or even be counterproductive, so they should be done as part of coherent low traffic neighbourhood areas or circulation schemes. Similarly, upgrades to short, isolated stretches of cycle routes are unlikely to have much effect in enabling cycling, so we recommend focus on one major route.

We therefore suggest the following:

  1. Implementation of at least one Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN), as specifically recommended by DfT (“Point closures can also be used to create low-traffic filtered neighbourhoods”) and already included in the county’s LCWIP for Oxford (pdf).
  2. Reallocation of space along one key Oxford arterial from motor traffic to walking and cycling to create a continuous, high quality and high capacity cycling route and better conditions for people walking, in line with the DfT recommendation of “reallocating space on a strategic corridor”.
  3. Within the city centre, reallocation of space from parking and carriageway to pavements and cycle tracks.

These interventions can be made at low cost on a temporary basis.  If they prove successful, they would form the basis for applications for “tranche 2” funding to both make them permanent and to replicate them in other neighbourhoods and on other arterial routes.

There are detailed plans in existence for LTNs for the Florence Park and St Marys areas of East Oxford, and less formal plans for Headington Quarry, Church Cowley and Jericho. While these plans involve additional measures that would take longer to implement and cost more, their key point closures (modal filters) could be implemented using the cheap temporary measures the DfT guidelines envisage, and more fully implemented if made permanent later.

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods would support “short and local journeys which can now be walked or cycled” but may also, depending on the location, help to improve strategic cycle routes and thus enable some longer-distance cycle trips. City Cycle Route 5 runs through the Florence Park, St Marys and Jericho areas, and Route 3a through Headington Quarry.

We urge that you push forward at least one LTN proposal for emergency implementation.

Improving walking and cycling on arterials would enable park-and-cycle, perhaps accompanying expanded bike hire schemes, and potentially park-and-walk to replace some park-and-ride trips, as well as enabling more local trips to be walked or cycled.

Given the DfT insistence on “full or light segregation”, implementation of a continuous cycle route on an arterial will involve such measures as:

  • Dedicating entire roads to walking and cycling, where parallel routes exist.
  • Removal of on-street parking.
  • Repurposing bus lanes as dedicated cycle tracks.
  • Reallocating other carriageway space, such as turning lanes.
  • Shifting cycle tracks off pavements and reducing reliance on shared walking-cycling space, freeing up space for people walking and reducing conflicts between walking and cycling.
  • Reworking junction signalling to favour pedestrians and to enable safe cycling movements.
  • At pinch points, using temporary traffic signals to alternate the direction of motor traffic flows (as is done during roadworks) and/or prioritise people cycling.

But these need to be part of a coherent overall scheme.

The route into the city from the West (the Botley Rd) might be a candidate for this. It lacks any alternative cycle routes and is the shortest of the major arterials — short enough that walking from Seacourt Park&Ride into the city is feasible. Motor traffic can be removed from Hythe Bridge Street, thanks to the availability of the parallel Park End St. And work is due to start soon on a Botley Rd upgrade; resources for that could be redeployed to emergency measures now, which could then either be undone or made permanent as part of the full upgrade.

Within the city centre there is an urgent need for a general reallocation of space from parking and carriageway to footpaths and where appropriate cycle tracks. This could be done on an emergency basis by:

  • Removing general parking from within the centre proper, from Broad St, Beaumont St, St Giles, High St, and so forth.
  • Using space freed up by that to provide alternative locations for bus stops and buses to wait, freeing up space in areas such as Magdalen Sts East and West and George St.
  • Using the freed space to significantly widen footpaths, using cones or other temporary barriers.
  • Where there are significant motor traffic flows, such as on St Giles and Beaumont St, creating proper cycle tracks, lightly segregated using wands or other such measures.
  • Changing junction timings to favour pedestrians, to avoid crowds accumulating on busy corners, and to enable safe cycle movements.

With additional funding, these changes could where effective be made permanent, alongside broader public realm improvements.

We hope that you will view these proposals as serious and constructive, keeping in mind the DfT statement that “Anything that does not meaningfully alter the status quo on the road will not be funded”.  We hope to stay in communication with you and work together to take advantage of this opportunity. This funding will allow us to reap the benefits that active travel, encouraged by safer routes to schools, shops, workplaces, and schools, brings to our beautiful city. We all want to see reduced congestion, better air quality, a pleasant street scene, liveable neighbourhoods, and most importantly improved health and wellbeing for everyone who uses the city streets. 

Signed, 

Oxfordshire Liveable Streets

Oxford Friends of the Earth

Oxford Civic Society

This scheme for a liveable neighbourhood in the St Mary’s area (including Howard Street and Magdalen Road) was commissioned by city councillors Craig Simmons and Dick Wolff and has the support of city and county councillors for the affected areas.

St Marys Low Traffic Neighbourhood Presentation 26th March 2020

Address to Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet

on behalf of 

Oxfordshire Liveable Streets

26th May, 2020

When it comes to transport, there is no longer a status quo. The population does not expect the usual procedures to apply. The government did not consult the people of Britain before implementing lockdown, and over 80% of the population consented to it, and now feels that it was the right thing to do. The reason was clear: public health.

The government is now telling you to do the same thing.

1st July is the watershed, when cafes, bars, even cinemas could open for business. People are scared about the uncertainty of the end of lockdown. They are more apprehensive than ever about coming into a city or town centre. They may come in once, but if they feel scared, unable to socially distance or breathe clean air, they will not come back. The government’s advice is to avoid public transport, and to drive where walking and cycling are not possible. For Oxfordshire, where the roads were at capacity since long before Covid-19, a sudden upswing in private car usage will present a challenge. Oxford and the town centres will choke, physically and economically.

As the local authority for Oxfordshire, you have the power to protect our businesses and our futures. Create an environment that puts people first, reassuring their fears by unequivocally prioritizing their health: in this case, protecting public space for social distancing, and protecting air quality to prevent exacerbating the impact of Covid-19.

Oxfordshire Liveable Streets (OLS) urges you to bring forward the implementation of a “Plus” version of Connecting Oxford, so that it is in place by 1st July. This is in line with other leading cities such as London, Manchester, Glasgow, Leicester, York, Brighton, and Bristol. On 21st January this Cabinet endorsed Connecting Oxford and we commend you for doing so.  However, in their report officers noted that,

“Other traffic restrictions and other traffic management schemes, including ‘low traffic neighbourhoods’, might be required to ensure traffic is not displaced and residential roads are not used as rat-runs.”

The “Plus” version of Connecting Oxford achieves this instantly. It also creates room for walking and cycling now – while bus usage is discouraged – and will improve bus performance in the future. We know this is true from other authorities that have taken the leap – most recently Ghent in Belgium.

The good news: the “Plus” version of Connecting Oxford is only two bus-gates away from the original.

We further urge you to work closely with Oxford City Council and with the district councils to provide public space for city businesses to restart as lockdown eases; secondly, to fast-track ‘liveable neighbourhoods’ schemes; and thirdly, to commit to segregated and continuous cycle lanes along the lengths of the city’s main arterial routes, to allow those whose confidence at cycling has been growing during lockdown to continue their good habits, and make a permanent shift to active, healthy travel.

We commend you all for the outstanding work you’ve been undertaking so urgently with district councils and with Oxford City Council. We appreciate the extreme pressure you are under.

We’ve all seen the images of car-choked Wuhan, as residents replaced bus journeys with car journeys. Could that happen here? In January, the world looked at the quarantine of Wuhan, and thought, “That would never happen here.” In March, Boris Johnson told the nation that he was going to have to do the unimaginable and stop Britons going to the pub. Now, the government is telling you to act, and we urge you to act as well, to ensure that this county remains open for business.

Thank you.

Dr. Liz Sawyer

On behalf of

Oxfordshire Liveable  Streets

Don’t miss this event! Live Q&A with the director and with the leader of Waltham Forest Borough Council.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/motherload-movie-fewer-cars-more-go-tickets-103524422334

Sunday, May 3. 645-945 pm.

Oxfordshire Liveable Streets supports the Zero Emission Zone proposed for central Oxford, but we feel it is far too limited in scope, and not just in the area covered.

There are many reasons for reducing and restricting motor traffic in central Oxford. With its narrow focus on exhaust emissions, the proposed Oxford Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) risks losing sight of most of these, and of the broader picture, and as a result is likely to be limited in its effectiveness. We urge the councils to evolve the ZEZ into a Minimal Motor Traffic Zone within which all motor traffic would be restricted, and progressively reduced to the minimum possible.

Private motor traffic takes up a disproportionate amount of space for the number of people being moved and thus hinders rather than enhances overall mobility. It not only reduces the amount of public space, but impairs the quality of the space there is. It is striking that Oxford lacks any kind of significant public plaza, something most comparable European — and even many UK — cities have. Motor traffic creates road danger, endangering vulnerable users or deterring them from visiting or transiting through the city centre at all. Electric vehicles are actually worse here, because they are heavier and accelerate faster. And motor traffic creates non-exhaust air pollution, from tyre wear, brake wear, and resuspension of road dust. Electric vehicles generate less brake wear, because of regenerative braking, but because they are heavier produce more tyre and road particulates.

So controls on motor traffic in central Oxford should not have a narrow focus on exhaust emissions and electric vehicles. At low levels of electric vehicle use, a ZEZ effectively grants a small number of well-off vehicle owners special privileges to access the city centre and use the space within it. At high levels of electric vehicle use, a ZEZ would become effectively meaningless, ceasing to do anything to constrain motor vehicle traffic at all.

The ZEZ should be reworked into a Minimal Motor Traffic Zone covering central Oxford, which would constrain access by all motor vehicles, with exhaust emissions just one of the criteria used. Ideally this would work by restricting access to vehicles with explicit permits, using a combination of charges and time and duration restrictions to create an incentive for less harmful choices. This could be used not just to favour electric vehicles, but to favour less polluting vehicles more generally, smaller and lighter vehicles over larger and heavier ones, and cycle freight over motor vehicles of any kind. And it should be coupled with a commitment to progressively reduce vehicle parking in the city centre, both visitor, workplace and residential.

We understand and support taxis and buses being treated separately. This is where air pollution concerns are most pressing and electrification is most valuable, because these vehicles have high utilisation rates and spend disproportionate amounts of time in areas with large numbers of people. Here again, however, the concerns and trade-offs involve not just exhaust emissions but also road danger, road surface damage, non-exhaust emissions, and space utilisation. We urge the councils to consider implementation of the Phil Jones Associates proposals for the city centre, or to find alternative approaches to finding space to improve the public realm and enable active travel.

Image: Enjoy Waltham Forest

submitted by Oxfordshire Liveable Streets — 25 November 2019
contact Danny Yee <danny@oxlivsts.org.uk>

The changes to the original proposals for Botley Rd introduce some small improvements and some regressions. In the light of Connecting Oxford and the urgent need to reduce motor traffic volumes, we urge consideration of bigger changes.

Comments on the changes

We support the extension of the 20mph zone westwards. It would be better if it were extended further, perhaps to the Seacourt Park and Ride, but extension to Binsey Lane does cover the worst pinch points and the narrowest section of roadway.

The new plans appear to remove sections of cycle track that were in the original consultation. In particular there no longer appears to be an eastbound cycle track across the Eynsham Rd junction.

The parking changes seem good. Parking needs to be removed anywhere it would block the footpaths or cycle lanes, or where it would result in the latter being in the “door zone”. (Note that Highways England’s “CD 195: Designing for cycle traffic” requires an extra 0.5m of width for cycle lanes or tracks adjacent to obstacles higher than 60cm.) It also needs to be clear to drivers that parking on the off-carriageway cycle tracks (or footpaths) is not allowed, and this needs to be enforceable. Given the state of parking enforcement elsewhere in Oxford, our preference would be for this to be done using bollards or other physical infrastructure wherever possible.

The pedestrian crossings have been improved slightly, but are still too few. Unsignalised crossings that require pedestrians to cross four lanes of motor traffic are dangerous — or simply inaccessible — to a range of people.

We are unhappy that the “minor side road entry” design in the original consultation appears to have been abandoned. If the new design follows the design of the red-brick raised humps elsewhere in Oxford, these offer a kind of “confused priority”, with the risk of some people walking thinking they have priority and some people driving thinking they have priority… We urge reconsideration of fully blended/Copenhagen crossings on all the smaller side-roads on Botley Rd. It is also essential that people cycling have clear priority over motor traffic at entries such as Poplar Rd, where they do not appear to on the current plans.

The problems with the original design remain

The scheme remains predicated on motor traffic volumes which are unsustainable: it doesn’t seem to take the effects of Connecting Oxford into account, or the climate emergency, or the pressing need to reduce air pollution.

The design still prioritises private motor traffic and buses over walking and cycling, most notably in the allocation of space. There needs to be a commitment, through Connecting Oxford or otherwise, to reducing motor traffic volumes enough to make the bus lanes unnecessary, freeing up space for adequate width footpaths and cycle tracks, bus stops, and loading access, and avoiding pedestrians having to cross four lanes of motor traffic.

There is still no commitment to colouring the cycle tracks, which would be the biggest single cycling safely improvement. We reiterate that if road colouring is too expensive to do both, the cycle lanes and tracks should be coloured and the bus lanes left uncoloured: to reverse that is to prioritise helping drivers avoid fines over the safety of people cycling and people walking.

The cycle tracks remain too narrow, at 1.5m in width. It is unsafe to have such narrow tracks directly adjacent to motor traffic, especially if that is in narrow 3 metre lanes. This is a problem even for some of the sections of “off-carriageway segregated cycle route”, as much of this appears to have no actual separation from the carriageway other than a short kerb.

There are still significant sections of “shared space” at bus stop bypasses and crossings, which are the locations most likely to see conflicts between people walking and cycling. This should be avoided wherever possible, if necessary by using short stretches of under-width cycle track (potentially as narrow as 1.2 metres, if well away from motor traffic).

It is hard to know how pedestrian-friendly the major junctions will be without knowing the light timings (though precedent suggests these will be optimised for motor traffic throughput rather than pedestrian safety or convenience). But these junctions as designed are likely to be quite terrifying for people cycling. Bicycles should never be turning alongside motor traffic at 30mph. The worst problems could be avoided by incorporating separate cycling times into the signalling, or by using a Dutch-style roundabout design with cycle traffic crossing motor traffic at right angles.

Local organic gardener ditches van to help tackle climate breakdown

For immediate release

Richard MacKenzie: hello@richardthegardener.co.uk 

A local organic gardener was moved to tears when he saw thousands of school students marching in the streets of Oxford demanding action on climate change in September. He has now ditched his van for a cargo-bike to travel to his customers in Kidlington and North Oxford reducing his travel emissions to zero including greenhouse gases and toxic pollutants. 

Richard MacKenzie (39), who is based in Kidlington, decided that his business had to become more sustainable and produce fewer greenhouse gases to help in tackling the current climate emergency. 

Although he aimed to make changes in spring 2020, Mr MacKenzie’s plan became urgent when his diesel van broke down in October and was beyond economical repair. 

After much research and testing, he settled on an 8Freight bike with cargo-box, the same setup used by emission-free Oxford couriers Pedal & Post. 

Richard said, “I looked at the environmental cost and the expense, in thousands per year, of running a van. Getting a cargo-bike to travel with my tools to my customers locally became a no-brainer”. He added, “I’ve already saved many kilos of carbon dioxide from being released as well as money that would have gone towards diesel, insurance and tax that a van devours.”

All being well, Mr MacKenzie will save around £3,500 each year by not having a van when purchase, vehicle excise duty, insurance and diesel are taken into account. It also will mean no more expensive garage bills. 

Scott Urban, a director of local campaigning group Oxfordshire Liveable Streets said, “By making this change, Richard has not only helped the city and our environment, he has also future-proofed himself for the changes to Oxford transport coming in the next couple of years. 

“By using a bike, Richard will sail through the ‘bus gates’ that have been proposed by both the county and city councils to prioritise active and sustainable modes of transport over private vehicular transport.” 

Richard set up his organic garden maintenance business in 2015 after working in a local market garden. Initially based in Witney, he moved the business to Kidlington in 2017 when he and his young family moved aboard their narrowboat to live life on Oxfordshire’s waterways. 

Twitter: twitter.com/_The_Gardener_
Facebook: facebook.com/GardenerRichard
Website: richardthegardener.co.uk

“Electrification and Simplification of Public Transport in Oxford: A ‘Revolutionary’ Suggestion” is a new pamphlet written by Oxford resident Keith Frayn. It begins:

Oxford’s bus network is characterised by duplication of buses on the main arterial routes, resulting in part from multiple bus operating companies and in part from the expressed wish of the bus operating companies not to ask passengers to transfer buses. This results in congestion, with buses holding up buses in heavy traffic in the city centre.

There are many problems with public transport in the city centre. St Aldates and High Street feel over-crowded with buses; heavy, long-distance buses roar through city centre streets; buses continue to need to use Queen Street despite opposition from many people; a new study has suggested routing buses along presently quiet streets including Holywell Street; bus stop placements are confusing; and there is overcrowding at bus stops so that local buses may not stop when there are already long-distance buses waiting.

You can download the full report here: Frayn – Oxford buses 2019. Comments welcome below.