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Botley Rd cycle infrastructure

Oxford, Transport, — June 2021

I was pretty critical of the plans for the Botley Rd rebuild, but at least for cycling the results from the first works to be completed seem even worse than I had feared.


The cycle track here is just 1.25m wide and the footpath 1.45m — but room has been found for four lanes of motor traffic and some central hatching

The cycle lanes/tracks are too narrow - in places even narrower than the inadequate 1.5m that was promised. This is aggravated by the use of unforgiving full-height kerbing to the carriageway, which prevents easy overtaking and creates a serious hazard if something forces a swerve. The cycle tracks are often directly adjacent to narrow 3 metre motor traffic lanes carrying 30mph traffic — a pedestrian suddenly stepping into the cycle track, debris, or anything else, and someone cycling might be straight under a car or bus. And the cycle tracks lack consistent priority over side entrances and are not flat, going up and down over driveway entrances (where keeping very occasional vehicle movements smooth has been prioritised).

Cycling eastwards here, I would just ignore the cycle provision completely and use the bus lane, which is simpler and more direct, has clearer priority, is smoother and more comfortable, and is safer - with little chance of interactions with pedestrians, kerbs, etc. and with more room to dodge around debris, or just for a safety margin if something unexpected happens. (While I was taking the photos below, two out of five people cycling used the bus lane.) If I were cycling with my 8yo, I'd cycle in the bus lane for the same reasons - there's also enough room there for me to cycle a metre to her right and protect her from overtakes. I would feel pretty bad about doing this in peak hour, since she cycles at about 6mph, but if this were part of our school-run that's what I'd do, given the safety issues. So it's not clear what the use case for the cycle tracks here is: maybe people unwilling to annoy bus and taxi drivers, unaware they're allowed to use bus lanes, or just following the cycle symbols without thinking about it.

photo People cycling to the park and ride are expected to do a very early diversion onto a shared footpath, then cross at the traffic lights; many will just use the carriageway provision for motor vehicles instead.
A nice illustration of "provide two bad options instead of one good one".
photo In a couple of places armadillos have been used to try to prevent left-hooks. They seem unlikely to help much with that - the coloured cycled tracks will help more - and since these are not used anywhere else in Oxford (that I'm aware of), they are likely to create risks for the unwary.
photo Note the full-height kerb
photo The shared foot-cycle bus bypasses seem wide enough here that there won't be problems
photo Another armadillo that seems unlikely to provide any protection from left-hooks, but rather creates a cycling hazard; the cycle lane here is only 1.35m wide
photo People cycling have clear priority, but the wide entry will encourage fast turning; this is pretty awful as a pedestrian
photo No clear priority over the side-entry (but some "separation" from the carriageway)
photo Clearer priority here, but still going down and then up
photo Bollards to protect the pedstrian "crossing"; with full-height kerbs and 1.4m cycle track
photo What's going on here?


  1. Hi Danny,

    Thanks this is a veery helpful summary of the shortcomings of the scheme, although you've not noticed the worst thing, a pedestrian crossing light pole literally in the middle of the cycle lane.


    Also the give way marking on the path in your last photo was put there by the owner of the house (we all think) so they can reverse their car out of their drive and on to the road. However it could also be to allow cyclists that have crossed the road to access the P&R. Either way it will be completely ignored.

    Thanks again


    Comment by Anthony O'Rourke — June 2021
  2. Hi Danny,
    Further to my last message i have now worked out what the random give way is for. It is where the new cycle path (next to the road) and new pavement (away from the road) meets the old cycle path (away from the road) and old pavement (next to the road). The give way is to prevent cyclists hitting the pedestrians that are transitioning. For the sake of some paint and swapping some tactile this is an unnecessary addition.

    Comment by Tony — June 2021

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