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School Streets schemes in Oxfordshire

While the county should continue to support schemes for schools that request them, having that as the only way for schemes to happen will limit the effectiveness of the program. The county should proactively plan School Streets schemes at those locations where they will have the most effect.

In many cases school-run traffic creates danger that affects the broader community, not just parents and children at individual schools. Here the county may need to push, sensitively but more or less firmly depending on the context, on schools that are less enthusiastic. (In some cases head teachers may actually appreciate the county taking some of the decision-making away from them, as that will insulate them from parent anger.)

I will consider three examples.

The congestion and traffic generated by Magdalen College School creates road danger in Cowley Place and at the Plain. There have already been meetings about a potential School Streets scheme here, and it would be good to get those discussions underway again.

Tyndale School is located on Barracks Lane, which is a heavily used walking and cycling route, and the road danger created by the school-run there is affecting people going to other schools and making non-school trips. The county should be approaching Tyndale to discuss how to address this problem, not waiting on them.

The area around Charlbury Rd, east of Banbury Rd, contains several schools, secondary and primary. A heavily used cycle route (National Cycle Route 51) runs right through the middle of this area, and congestion and road danger there affect other schools and indeed cycle accessibility for most of North Oxford. Given there are maybe half a dozen schools involved here, the county needs to take the lead in starting discussions of a School Streets scheme.

A narrow focus on school-initiated schemes also risks exacerbating existing inequalities in active travel provision, by only helping schools that already have high active travel rates and supportive head teachers. A paper has just been published looking at London's School Streets schemes, showing they are less likely in areas with high car dominance.

The design of these three schemes seems fairly straightforward with ANPR cameras: on Cowley Place at the Plain, on Barracks Lane at the Hollow Way junction, and on the Bardwell, Linton, and Belbroughton junctions with Banbury Rd.

Note: this is slightly modified from the speech I gave to the decision meeting on the School Streets schemes for Larkrise, St Ebbes, Windmill and St Nicholas, in September 2022.


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