Cycling campaigners support traffic filters and other changes

Hythe Bridge Street - where a bus gate could be introduced - before the George Street junction was altered
Hythe Bridge Street - where a bus gate could be introduced - before the George Street junction was altered

Dr Alison Hill, of cycling campaign group Cyclox, urges people to support the Central Oxfordshire Travel Plan.

On Tuesday the Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet is meeting to make decisions on two radical traffic proposals, the Central Oxfordshire Travel Plan and as a core component of that plan, the traffic filters that aim to reduce the number of car journeys across the city.

These plans have caused a lot of contention and the council chamber will no doubt be full to bursting with people wanting to put their views across.

The plan if implemented will result in a huge shake-up in the way all of us will travel into, within and around Oxford.

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The last big shake-up was 20 or so years ago when motor traffic was removed from Cornmarket and Queen Street and bus gates were installed in the High Street. Those changes too were highly contentious. But since then traffic volumes in the city have increased to such an extent that cars dominate the city.

Something had to be done and Oxfordshire County Council has proposed the Central Oxfordshire Travel Plan to tackle the amount of motor vehicle traffic, and to meet the commitments in the Local Transport and Connectivity Plan to address the climate emergency and to create an inclusive, integrated and sustainable transport network.

You will no doubt guess what Cyclox’s position is. Our 700 members expected us to support the proposals and we have in our response to the Central Oxfordshire Travel Plan approved every one of the 22 actions.

We did, however, note that there was no mention of creating a 20mph city and asked for that to be included in the final report.

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The report going to cabinet now mentions that 20mph limits may be introduced but without detriment to bus journey times. Reducing speed is essential to help achieve Vision Zero (no deaths or serious injuries on our road) – another key commitment in the Local Transport and Connectivity Plan. We will be keeping up the pressure for a 20mph city.

We also supported the traffic filters, though objected to the exemptions for coaches and for heavy goods vehicles that are proposed. We expressed our concern that the 100 day passes per resident in the Oxford permit area was far too generous. Now we read that the council proposes that Oxfordshire residents outside the Oxford permit area will be getting 25 passes per car per year, a change to the original plan. We fear this could mean that the traffic congestion will continue to blight our city.

Should the plan be implemented in full (and the number of resident passes lowered!) the city will become an attractive place to cycle. A safe inclusive cycle network is promised, and traffic volumes should be greatly reduced, due to the combined effects of traffic filters, the Zero Emission Zone, removal of parking spaces and more freight being moved by e-cargo bikes. Together these changes will encourage many more people to use their bikes.

A YouGov poll undertaken on behalf of Oxfordshire Liveable Streets showed two out of three Oxford residents surveyed supported the proposals. It is hard to believe that when there has been so much noisy opposition to the plans, but there is a quiet majority who don’t speak out but want these changes.

You still have time to write to your county councillor to show your support for the Central Oxfordshire Travel Plan and for the traffic filters.

Tell your councillor that you welcome the proposed changes and that they will get people out of cars and using more sustainable means of transport.

But add in your concerns that the number of residents’ passes through the traffic filters is over-generous and puts at risk the main aim of reclaiming our streets from the dominance of cars.

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This story was written by Andy Ffrench, he joined the team more than 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.

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