Headington Liveable Streets

A proposal for a new way of living

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In lockdown there has been a noticeable change in the areas where we live. It has been easier to walk and cycle around. The air is cleaner. Traffic noise has been replaced by birdsong. We are a group of residents from around Headington who would like to work with the local community to make these benefits permanent.

Headington Liveable Streets is proposing improvements for our streets that will [1]

  • make our neighbourhoods safer, healthier and more attractive places to live
  • enhance community togetherness
  • support active and healthy travel options for residents and people travelling to work here
  • address speeding, which has become a problem

Our vision is for community-led liveable streets across Headington, where active travel is made easy, playing out is safe, air quality is improved, neighbourhood connections thrive and rat-running is no longer an option.

Improvements could be:

  • school streets’ to make it safer for children to cross roads and walk, scoot and cycle to school
  • safe street space where we could socialise and support our pubs
  • easing rat-runs and speeding with planters or bollards to create low-traffic neighbourhoods

We believe we can make positive change in our neighbourhoods by working together.

What’s a low-traffic neighbourhood?

Low-traffic neighbourhoods use “modal filters”, known as connectors [2], to prevent through-traffic (i.e. rat-running), whilst still allowing residents, visitors and emergency services to access anywhere within the neighbourhood by car. Reducing traffic to access-only traffic creates quieter, safer, less polluted streets for those who live there and travel through by foot, bike or mobility scooter. This idea is known as ‘Liveable Streets’, ‘Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods’ and ‘Mini-Holland’.

These measures encourage people to reconsider how they travel and make journeys on foot or bike more attractive. There’s a proven effect of ‘traffic evaporation’ [3] – that can reduce motor traffic overall, bringing benefits to arterial roads too.

Low-traffic neighbourhoods are a good-value solution given the benefits they bring

The benefits of low-traffic neighbourhoods are supported by the evidence [4] and are manifold: safety, health, air quality, active travel, reduced collisions, increasing life expectancy and thriving communities.

They require fairly low-level engineering infrastructure such as bollards, planters, road markings and signage with relatively low costs. The recent access to Headington project will cost around £16m [5] – we anticipate that the improvements we’re proposing will cost only a fraction of that sum and produce much greater benefits for our local community. The recent County consultation made a strong case for the benefits of low-traffic neighbourhoods as high-value low-cost improvements which produce very substantial benefits for local communities. We warmly support this approach.

Partnership working

We want to work with each neighbourhood to introduce improvements that fit together into a coherent, holistic plan covering all Headington neighbourhoods, prepared through partnership working with stakeholders including residents, community groups, local businesses, neighbouring communities and local authorities. We want to collaborate with and actively support Oxfordshire County Council in making liveable neighbourhoods a reality for Headington.

Our vision for Headington is set against the backdrop of the City and County Councils’ Connecting Oxford proposal (envisaged for 2021) which will reduce through-traffic in Oxford as a whole, thereby mitigating concerns of a knock-on increase in traffic on the arterial roads.

Our proposed zones

In line with our Headington-wide approach, we are working across this wide area. We will be asking local residents, businesses and other stakeholders to co-design improvements in each of these proposed ‘zones’.

What’s a school street?

As Mums for Lungs explains:

School streets are a simple idea – to temporarily close the roads around schools at drop-off and pick-up times.

Only pedestrians, cyclists and other non-motorised vehicles are allowed to use them at school pick-up and drop-off times. Signs are put up to inform drivers of the road closure, and barriers or cameras can be used to enforce it. Residents, local businesses and blue badge holders are able to apply for exemptions.

Benefits of school streets demonstrated in successful trials

A significant portion of morning rush hour traffic in Oxford is attributable to the school run, leading to both further congestion and increased air pollution outside our school gates and around the city. Closing roads near schools to motor vehicles can help reduce car journeys, as it provides a safer and more pleasant environment in which children can walk, scoot or cycle to school, and also enables them to build some exercise into their daily routine.

Several London boroughs are now implementing school streets permanently following successful trials that have been welcomed by parents and local residents alike. Find out more about school streets at schoolstreets.org.uk.

END NOTES

[1] Oxfordshire County Council Local Transport and Connectivity Plan consultation, May 2020
[2] See other examples of modal filters here
[3] London Living Streets Evaporating traffic? Impact of low traffic neighbourhoods on main roads
[4] Oxfordshire County Council Local Transport and Connectivity Plan consultation, May 2020
[5] OCC Spokesperson, Oxford Mail, 7th September 2019