Neighbour frustration at losing car parking to schemes ‘bordering on racism’

·5-min read
Morrell Avenue residents at a protest against quickways in May. Picture: Liam Rice
Morrell Avenue residents at a protest against quickways in May. Picture: Liam Rice

PLANS to replace car parking spaces with controversial cycle lanes have been blasted by those living with the scheme.

Segregated cycle lanes, referred to as quickways, are being introduced across East Oxford by Oxfordshire County Council.

Neighbours in Morrell Avenue have voiced their disapproval of the scheme, highlighting the impact of losing parking spaces and arguing that it in fact isn’t safe for cyclists.

READ AGAIN: Morrell Avenue neighbours blast ‘dangerous’ quickways

One resident went as far to say that combined with the low traffic neighbourhood (LTN) in the nearby Divinity Road, the transport plans are ‘bordering on racism’.

Maggie Brown told this newspaper: “Even though so many people are against, they’re going ahead with them.

“It’s bordering on racism, how are the small businesses going to survive?

“They’re going to kill the community of East Oxford, which has always been beautifully diverse.”

On the quickways in particular, she added: “They’re taking away everyone’s parking, and we have a lot of disabled and elderly people in Morrell Avenue.

“There’s a lot of carers that come and visit, so it’s a big problem – I can’t believe how ridiculous it is.

“I’ve never felt so passionate about anything in my life, things aren’t being thought about and they’re just bulldozing in.”

Oxford Mail: Morrell Avenue residents at a protest against quickways in May. Picture: Liam Rice
Oxford Mail: Morrell Avenue residents at a protest against quickways in May. Picture: Liam Rice

Morrell Avenue residents at a protest against quickways in May. Picture: Liam Rice

The newly-formed Morrell Avenue Area Residents Association (MAARA) is aiming to put on a united front against the quickways.

Aeron Buchanan, chair of MAARA, said: “There’s a very clear drive to do something – to make our street more residential and keep the parking.

“It’s a long street and there’s always going to be tradespeople visiting, but even with the parking bays gone, they’ll still come but have to park on the verge or the pavement.

“We already have a problem with that, the path being blocked for pedestrians and people with mobility scooters.

“It could be made a cycling street, rather than putting the lanes on the side.

“It’s an affront to cycling safety, uphill advisory cycling lanes give drivers the confidence to overtake cyclists, but the advisory lanes don’t give the one and a half metre distance, so cars go along the lane giving maybe 20cm clearance.”

Oxford Mail: Morrell Avenue residents at a protest against quickways in May. Picture: Liam Rice
Oxford Mail: Morrell Avenue residents at a protest against quickways in May. Picture: Liam Rice

Morrell Avenue residents at a protest against quickways in May. Picture: Liam Rice

In terms of making Morrell Avenue a cycling street, the county council warned it is ‘too narrow’ and would result in cyclists having to pass in front of vehicles.

Morrell Avenue is also ‘too narrow for mandatory cycle lanes in both directions’, the council reported, therefore the cycle lanes are running mostly uphill, with a downhill section near St Clement’s Street.

Uphill cycle lanes slow cyclists down and protect them from cars, the council added, while on the downhill section, warning symbols have been introduced to make car drivers more aware of cyclists.

Morrell Avenue resident Vandhna Sood said: “I don’t understand why we’re at the receiving end of LTNs and quickways, it seems inequitable what’s happening.

“I think it’s a good thing to have schemes which reduce parking in Oxford, but we need parking here for carers, visitors and businesses – we can’t be cut off from our families.”

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Peter Rooke added: “I don’t have any problem with making streets safer for cycling – I’m a cyclist – or quieter for residents.

“But the current arrangement, whereby the Divinity Road LTN means those residents have quiet, traffic-free streets, plus residents’ parking, whereas the residents of Morrell Avenue have more traffic plus the loss of all on-street parking.”

The county council reported that before installation of the quickways, two consultations took place, with 75 per cent of respondents supporting the proposals during the informal version and more than 60 per cent were in support during the statutory consultation.

A council spokesperson said: “Quickways are designed to encourage cycling and walking in an area of the city that has low activity levels and lacks the right infrastructure.

“The roads in East Oxford also form one of the main routes into the city centre and quickways will therefore provide direct faster and segregated routes into the city.

“Before installing them, we held an informal consultation and a statutory consultation.

“We received some feedback that loss of parking and waiting restrictions were a concern, however the majority of respondents supported the proposals.

“The removal of parking should enhance cycle safety, because vehicles and cyclists leaving a side road will have a much better view of oncoming traffic on Morrell Avenue and other quickway routes.

“Carers, tradespeople and residents will still be able to use their allocated parking permits or visitor permits in side roads where parking is not being removed.”

The council spokesperson confirmed residents will be able to allocate visitor permits to friends and families.

The spokesperson continued: “The decision to implement the first quickway cycle routes in East Oxford was informed by public health and road safety data.

“We plan to monitor the effects of these cycle routes, by tracking cycling, walking and vehicle numbers and speeds.

“Quickways will offer households in East Oxford the choice of quick, safe and convenient local cycling routes.

“They also form part of our ambitions to encourage active travel across the county, as outlined in our Local Transport and Connectivity Plan.”

Read more from this author

This story was written by Liam Rice, he joined the team in 2019 as a multimedia reporter.

Liam covers politics, travel and transport. He occasionally covers Oxford United.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Liam.rice@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter @OxMailLiamRice

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