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Oxford for Cars

Books + Ideas, Oxford, — September 2020

Oxford for Cars is a new organisation set up to further the use of cars and other motor vehicles in Oxford. Oxford for Cars opposes any attempts to restrict or control the use of cars, and demands the removal of the barriers to them that exist across Oxford.

People like to drive. The existence of obstacles to driving wherever people want to is unacceptable, and cars should be prioritised instead of having space taken away from them for clunky buses and wobbly cyclists and trundling pedestrians. "We think that by further discouraging bus use and walking and cycling, we can easily get another 20,000 cars a day driving into or across Oxford."

Oxford for Cars is totally opposed to low traffic neighbourhoods where cars can't use residential streets as cut-throughs. Not only do we not want any more of these, we want the ones that already exist removed. If cars are allowed to race through these they will be able to get to the next congestion bottleneck faster and spend longer waiting there. "We want the benefits of High Traffic Neighbourhoods to be made available to everyone."

Far fewer children walk or cycle to school now than even twenty years ago. That's because they don't need to, as more people now have cars. If there's a health or safety problem, schools should insist that children arrive safely in cars, rather than attempting to introduce School Streets schemes that restrict motor vehicles from coming right up to the school gates. Where possible, Oxford for Cars will work with schools to implement drive-through drop-offs, which will allow children to be deposited directly into classrooms and avoid them having to exercise themselves at all, or risk getting rained on.

The bus gates on High St and Castle St should be removed, as there are too many buses there and something has to be done to discourage them. And all bus lanes should be converted to extra car lanes — peak hour speeds on the main roads will drop below 5mph under our plans, so it should be possible to cram several thousand extra cars into those lanes, for the two or three hours it will take them to get into or out of Oxford. If that doesn't put the bus companies out of business further measures may be necessary.

The footpaths in the city centre should be shrunk, and all cycle parking removed, to create room for extra on-street car parking. Sadly not everyone will be able to park right outside the shop they want to visit, but there is plenty of space in Oxford for new car parks — just look at Gloucester Green, Bonn Square, Christ Church Meadow and University Parks. If the Broad St car park were properly designed it could hold at least twice as many cars, possibly five times as many with a compact multi-storey design. And "controlled parking" zones should of course be abolished.

Air pollution can be solved by improving the filtering systems in cars and shopping centres, and discouraging people from leaving their houses other than in cars. Subsidised gym memberships will enable people to pedal exercise bikes and walk on treadmills instead of having to risk their lives walking or cycling outside.

We realise almost a third of households in Oxford have no access to a motor vehicle, and a quarter of adults lack a driving license. So Oxford for Cars is calling for emergency funding from the government to subsidise driving lessons, and for a "first car owners" grant to enable more people to buy cars. We call on Oxfordshire to hold an annual "drive to work" day, or even take a leaf out of Adelaide's book and celebrate a "driver's month".

And the future? We are collaborating with like-minded organisations to design a fantastic motorway system for Greenland after the ice-cap there melts.

Update 1: Despite the efforts of agents provocateurs in the comments, we are not going to be lured into factional divisions between different kinds of cars. ICE cars are the only ones with chemical warfare capabilities; they can also generate offensive levels of noise even at low speeds. EVs compensate by being heavier and able to accelerate faster, making them better at simply bullying pedestrians and cyclists off the roads. And even a small sprinkling of AVs may be enough to terrorise people walking and cycling.

Update 2: My original post only considered the place of cars in Oxford itself, and not the role Oxford could play in inducing larger volumes of traffic nationally. On consideration of the options, I believe the best idea is to build a giant raised motorway intersection over the top of Oxford, allowing easy interconnection between the A34, the A420, the A40, the M40, the A44, the A4074, and the new expressway to Cambridge, as well as a number of other roads. Oxford itself could then be repurposed as a motorway services area.

12 Comments »

  1. I urge Oxford for Cars to modernise its thinking. ICE cars are the true enemy. The future requires us to adopt fully electric cars. This will allow people to exercise OUTDOORS in designated areas like city parks. Another innovation which OfC should support is pedestrian fencing. These should be built immediately. In the near term, they will allow us to double the current 20- and 30-mph speed limits in built-up areas. In the medium/infinite term, they will allow our cities to host squadrons of self-driving vehicles, without fear of "walkers" gaming their collision-minimisation technology. Lastly, while I applaud your forward-thinking attitude to parking spaces and expansion thereof, you have not advocated the construction of new routes. Everyone -- Transport Secretary Grant Shapps included -- knows that the number-one solution to congested roads is to build additional road capacity. We are fortunate that Oxford retains many natural/green corridors that happen to lie along desire lines for getting around the city. The decades-old proposal to create a relief road for the High Street (across Christ Church Meadow) should be revived and adopted ASAP. Likewise the Lye Valley nature reserve is the perfect location for a sorely needed traffic artery connecting Headington to East Oxford. In any event, thank you for starting this crucial organisation and for once standing up for the downtrodden motorist!

    Comment by Scott Urban — September 2020
  2. Thank you for standing up for poor innocent cars. They get such a bad press, and what harm have they ever done to anyone? A suggestion - could the group call itself Oxford for Using Cars (OfUC)?

    Comment by Jane Gallagher — September 2020
  3. We are going to need an Oxford for Cars website. So many great ideas coming to me and my family right now. The website could have loads of blog posts on these helpful ideas. ALSO, Oxford for Cars can endorse candidates in the May 2021 elections!!!! We might need an Oxfordshire for Cars to endorse candidates in the county council elections too. Yes, definitely. In fact, can we reform OfC into Oxfordshire for Cars?

    Comment by Scott — September 2020
  4. Example 1: The school drop-off is really chaotic and problematic. In the vast majority of cases, Oxford's primary schools have surplus playing field space that can be converted to car parking. Take the example of Larkrise School in East Oxford. There are several playing fields behind the school. If just one of these were converted to car parking (with access via Campbell Road, obvs), we would alleviate the pressure on school-gate access by car. It seems unlikely anyone would miss just one playing field.

    Example 2: I know that I advocated that Oxford's parks become "designated outdoor exercise areas" (just making de jure what is already de facto). But the truth is that most of Oxford's parks have lots of green space. Even just a small sacrifice of some of this land could enable key corridors to be created. Take East Oxford (again). If the proposal to convert one of the Larkrise playing fields to car parking goes ahead, there could be congestion on Campbell Road (at present, the only access to the playing fields). This could be relieved by creating an access route through Florence Park. Cars could then drive from Cricket Road / Rymers Lane to the new car park behind Larkrise school. I am confident that other such city parks offer similar possibilities.

    Comment by Scott — September 2020
  5. Oxford's problem is its medieval street layout, which for too long has held the everyday motorists of this city to ransom. You simply must take a pilgrimage to the other end of the A40, in London, to see the solution: Westway. This ingenious testament to the right of every individual car owner to freely travel at their own chosen speed and direction, was made possible by a small group of visionary politicians and campaigners who knew there was something better for the suburban drivers of our capital city. We can and must believe that it is possible for Oxford to have its very own “Little Los Angeles”. Widen and dual the London Road all the way from its source at the A40, then when it reaches the present St Clements, launch it into freedom on a 4-lane flyover, skimming the rooftops of Magdalen, Queens and All Souls, arching its concrete way past the Radcliffe Camera (which has been crying out for a decent backdrop for years) before bringing the faithful car driver and his automobile safely to the real Oxford, what is famous for, its commercial, retail heart. I estimate this could reduce journey times by as much as 12 minutes, benefiting business, the elderly, the disabled and the emergency services. With this vision in place, Oxford will finally have a world class reputation as a city, rising up to and even beyond the likes of Swindon, Slough, and Redditch. Thank you Oxford for Cars for helping to make this happen. It can't come soon enough.

    Comment by Stephen Gower — September 2020
  6. The elephant in the room is the Westgate car park!!!!! WHY DIDN'T THE COUNCIL LET THEM BUILD A LARGER CAR PARK WITH MORE CAPACITY!!! Such a short sighted decision!!

    Comment by William Ray — September 2020
  7. I like Stephen's idea, but I think Oxford should be a motorway junction, not just a motorway. We can one-up Eindhoven with their dinky cycle Hovenring! We can build an entire elevated motorway junction right over the top of Oxford, solving the interconnect problems of the A34, M40, A40, and A420 (and the new motorway to Cambridge of course). Oxford itself would then become a drive-through motorway service area.

    Comment by danny — September 2020
  8. I've done my share of commenting here but really Danny your suggestion along with Stephen's, Jane's and Will's just puts stars in my eyes. So it's:

    NAME
    _ Oxford for Using Cars (OfUC)

    SHORT TERM
    _ BIGGER Westgate car park (including paving over Oxpens playing fields)
    _ Car parks at primary schools playing fields

    MEDIUM TERM
    _ Roads through green corridors including parks
    _ A40 on stilts all the way into city centre

    LONGER TERM
    _ Massive aerial motorway interchange above Oxford

    Comment by Scott Urban — September 2020
  9. Guys guys you are missing a trick...couldn't the rivers be diverted underground in piping and then we can have some extra urban roads all round Oxford. And also whilst we've got the diggers out how about some more underground car parking, no limits to how deep this could go and it would free up the space above for all the fly-overs. Of course if it was deep enough we could build some roads down there and drive to Adelaide, might get a bit hot in places near the earth's core but I'm sure my air conditioning could cope with that. Think of the job creation opportunities. Should we be twinning with Adelaide?

    Comment by Victoria Sowter — September 2020
  10. I think you have underplayed the role that Oxford could play in "inducing larger volumes of traffic nationally."

    We could invite a foreign investor, say from Germany, to build a large car production facility on the eastern edge of the City. This could build vehicles rapidly and efficiently to keep prices down (easy if the external cost is born by the taxpayer) thus encouraging more car ownership.

    One could start building smaller classic models and slowly increase them in size whilst keeping the design broadly the same (if this was done gradually no one would notice). And if anyone did spot this you could simply roll out a hybrid electric version.

    Comment by Craig — September 2020
  11. Scott may think that the proposal to convert playing fields into school car parks is an innovative proposal, but the private sector is already ahead of him: a couple of years ago the Dragon School, having saturated the on-road provision of parking on yellow lines north of the school, proposed to create a roundabout where their tennis courts are at the end of Norham Road to make more efficient use of a second two-way car route across NCN51 to the south of the school, admittedly the same traffic stream meeting and crossing itself in the chicane at the corner of Benson Place during the school rush-hour. I imagine it would be like a slow-motion video game.

    Comment by Geraint Jones — September 2020
  12. Can you please add that there is a lot of space inside the Westgate Centre which could be used by cars? They should open up the pedestrianised areas to traffic, so we can park directly outside the shops. Once Queen Street is unpedestrianised, access will be very easy.

    Comment by Jack — October 2020

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