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Uninterpretable Error: Osney Mead cycling infrastructure

Oxford, Transport — June 2021

The cycling infrastructure on Osney Mead, put in only this year (2021), is seriously dysfunctional.


The bollards here seem almost deliberately placed to minimise usable space and create conflict between cycles, strollers, and even just ordinary pedestrians - why not one central bollard?

photo Cycling south on the cycle track on Ferry Hinksey Rd, we come to a post in the middle of the track and no obvious way to get onto the cycle track that runs across the road and to Osney Mead. (I guess we just cycle around the blind corner on the pavement?)
photo Not only are the cycle track and pavement not continuous, they are not marked in any way at all across the side-entry, giving no warning to drivers turning in to them to expect people walking or cycling. If we can't manage cycle priority across 5mph side entries, where are we going to have it? (This is also poorly designed for pedestrians.)
photo And another side entry. Anyone wanting to cycle at any reasonable speed will be safer on the carriageway, to avoid any risk of being left-hooked at these entries.
photo And here people cycling are expected to do a sideway hop onto the road, before turning the corner to reach the bollards we started with.

Note that there is a cycle track only on one side of Osney Mead. I had the vague idea it was intended to be bi-directional, but it's certainly not marked as such (all the cycle symbols face the same way) and it's way too narrow to be an adequate bi-directional track. So anyone cycling west is probably going to be on the carriageway. So this route is still only usable by people comfortable cycling with the motor traffic on the carriageway. (Update: I'm told the plan is to put a similar cycle track on the south side of Osney Mead, as part of the redevelopment there.)

If it's impossible for the county to build functional cycling infrastructure, the only alternative is clearly to get rid of as much motor traffic as possible. The Workplace Parking Levy that's part of Connecting Oxford needs to cover Osney Mead. And any development of the site should be contingent on a massive reduction in parking provision. The goal should be to get traffic volumes (and speeds) low enough for even the slow and unconfident to be able to cycle with the traffic.


  1. Yes, it could be worth trying to find out from the project manager who they got to design this, and finding out whether it was just a designer/planner who needs to develop their understanding of the practicalities of cycling, or whether the county has a different vision of how cycling integrates with the overall transport plan. It does just sound like poor planning, but could they be taking the perspective of someone who’s a sports biker as opposed to more family / casual commuter biking perspective?

    I was just talking with friends yesterday about the surprising amount of positive bike path changes / additions that have been made within the City of Sydney council area since the pandemic (not linked I think!). One was reminiscing about a City of Sydney talk a few years ago by a Dutch guy about the bike / transport planning in Amsterdam and how beautifully integrated it is, developed to be makes the centre most accessible by bike and to redirect drivers to the outer roads where possible. Left me wanting to find out more about how that developed.

    Comment by Bec Plumbe — June 2021
  2. We tried to find a record of the talk and my friend thought it was the one referenced here:
    Can Sydney go Dutch? (2017)

    Comment by Bec Plumbe — June 2021
  3. Yes, Sydney City seems to have made real progress with cycling infrastructure! Mark Wagenburr is great, though reading too much of him can be depressing - cities like Utrecht are just so much further ahead than anywhere in the UK. (Though there are glimmers of light here, as in Sydney.)

    Comment by danny — June 2021
  4. And now Thames Water have dug a trench right across it. However hard they try the replacement surface won't be as smooth and nice. I have a couple of pictures but can't upload them here

    Comment by Kit Thompson — August 2021
  5. Went here at the weekend. Admittedly part of the Osney Mead section is temporarily blocked by roadworks, but the bollard problem at the river link has now been addressed. There's now a single central bollard at the road end of the link, and none at the river end. It seems someone's listening.

    Comment by Rob Haynes — November 2021
  6. Yes, they've fixed the bollards, and they are - if I understand rightly - going to build the cycle lane so it has priority over the car park side entries. And resurface it so it's actually flat.

    Comment by danny — November 2021

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