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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.

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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?

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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.

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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). (more…)

modal shift in the school run

cycle rack with overflow bikes attached to edges of frame and lying on the grassModal shift in action! Seeing individual children at Larkrise taking up cycling or walking is great, but this photo gives a feel for the broader picture. I did a count and there were twenty bikes more than would fit into the school's cycle parking: this rack was eighteen over capacity and the other was two over! (Normal was fewer cycles than spaces.) And it's still happening: there are still people planning cycle training for their children, trying to buy bikes, and so forth. There are also increasing numbers of older children being allowed to walk to school by themselves. (more…)

things that aren't alternatives to LTNs

Various things have been proposed as alternatives to LTNs. Some of the proposals are complementary to low traffic neighbourhoods rather than alternatives to them. Others rely on technology that doesn't exist, funding that doesn't exist, or are otherwise fantastic. None will achieve the core active travel and liveability goals of a low traffic neighbourhood. (more…)

the worst junction in Oxford?

Consider the junction where the B4495 (Church Cowley Rd) meets the A4158 (Henley Avenue/Rose Hill). Is this the worst junction in Oxford? (more…)

evaluating LTNs

A guest piece by Simon Munk, Senior Infrastructure Campaigner, London Cycling Campaign

Should there be baseline measurement and assessment of LTNs? Hell to the yeah. Will there be? Likely, yes. What should we assess? Overall motor traffic volumes, traffic volumes on peripheral main roads, traffic volumes in adjacent areas, ideally pollution also (but traffic volumes will likely be an incredibly close correlation if not), walking & cycling rates, resident feedback and more. But, wait.... when should we measure? This is really important. IMO measurement of the post-scheme steady state should not happen until at least six months after all schemes are in fully. (more…)

calming traffic and lowering speeds is not enough

Lower speed limits and speed limit enforcement keep cropping up as an alternative to low traffic neighbourhoods (or to city-wide action to take back space from motor trafic). Traffic calming and lower traffic speeds are an important complement to reducing motor traffic volumes, but not an alternative to doing that. (more…)

Boundary Brook parking - a hazard

I think the biggest gain from controlled parking zones is the prevention of dangerous parking. This can be illustrated by the case of Boundary Brook, in the proposed Donnington CPZ Zone of East Oxford. Vehicles parked here block routes, prevent visibility, and pose a serious risk to the children at Larkrise primary school, as well as to residents and to people who use the area as a walking or cycling route.There are four year olds who cycle to school here with their parents; there are nine year olds who walk here unaccompanied. (more…)

can we live without that junction?

It must have been in 2013 or 2014, when I was still pushing Helen around in a stroller. Coming back from a friend's place on Campbell Rd, I got her safely across Cornwallis Rd at its junction with Rymers Lane, breathed a sigh of relief, and had the idea that a lot of problems would be solved if that junction were simply destroyed — or, to be more accurate, made impassable to motor traffic. At the time this just seemed like a fantasy.

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Oxford road junctions: inhibiting walking and cycling

One way to see how little consideration walking and cycling are given in Oxford is to look at the main road junctions. So stealthily and incrementally, over decades, have time and space at these been reallocated to motor traffic, at the expense of other modes, that people have become habituated to it and are mostly oblivious to how bad they are.

The three examples I use here are chosen because I know them, but a similar analysis would hold for most of the major junctions in Oxford. (more…)

Daunt Books in Summertown

Books + Ideas, Oxford — October 2020

I finally made it to Summertown to visit Daunt Books, Oxford's latest bookshop. I figured I should take the opportunity before another lockdown happened, and it was also a chance for a pleasant cycle while the weather was still good. (more…)

traffic calming or traffic removal? an East Oxford example

One common objection to low traffic neighbourhoods is that reducing motor traffic isn't necessary, and that all we need is traffic calming to stop speeding. But even if traffic calming measures worked perfectly in reducing speeds — which they don't — high volumes of traffic are still a huge deterrent to walking and cycling, and are especially dangerous for children and slower or frailer adults. Traffic calming measures such as chicanes also tend to induce stop-start movements, with rapid speed changes that are dangerous, and force people cycling to repeatedly merge with motor traffic.

As an East Oxford example, consider Cricket Rd and Rymers Lane, which together run 1.3km from Howard St to Between Towns Rd. There are fourteen sets of traffic calming measures here, mostly speed humps combined with chicanes but in a few places just one or the other. (more…)

Oxford for Cars

Books + Ideas, Oxford, Transport — 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. (more…)

Oxford's existing low traffic neighbourhoods

Oxford already has a lot of low traffic neighbourhoods, without through routes for motor traffic (which is restricted to access). Some of these are "natural", in that they were effectively created by the geography, but new areas of housing are built as low traffic neighbourhoods — no one designs residential streets that will attract through traffic — and others have been retrospectively implemented by modal filters, usually bollards or gates. Here I document some of the latter. (more…)

Abingdon Rd cycle lanes

Oxford, Transport — August 2020

I went to take a look at the changes to Abingdon Rd, and cycled and walked the stretch from the Weirs Lane (Donnington Bridge) junction to St Aldates, in both directions. I'm not sure cycling here is any worse than before — it was always pretty bad — but I can't see how it's the least bit better in any way. So to be honest it seems a waste of £20,000, or whatever the changes cost. (more…)

cycling Oxford to Langford Locks

Books + Ideas, Oxford, Travel — August 2020

Parcelforce tried to deliver something to me at work and left a card. Rather than paying for redelivery I decided to get some exercise cycling up to their depot in Langford Locks, on the NW outskirts of Kidlington. Rather than braving the Banbury/Oxford Rd and the A4260, which looked a bit hairy on Google Streetview, I cycled up the canal instead. (more…)

Magdalen bridge cycle lanes

Oxford, Transport, — August 2020

As part of the emergency active travel funding, the cycle tracks on Magdalen Bridge have been widened. On Wednesday evening (August 5) I went and had a look at the changes for myself. There I ran into Chris (Pedal&Post) and we watched the interactions between motor traffic and people cycling for maybe half an hour, from 5.30 to 6pm. (more…)

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

Note: a version of this appeared in the Oxford Mail on 21 July 2020.

There is nothing at all complicated about low traffic neighbourhoods, even if urban planners turn them into acronyms ("LTNs") and introduce jargon such as "modal filter". (more…)

lockdown shopping

Life, Oxford — June 2020

Yesterday I made my first visit to Blackwells bookshop, one of the shops that has reopened with the easing of lockdown. I bought Marcia Williams' Tales From Shakespeare for Helen and (an impromptu find) Ross MacPhee's End of the Megafauna.

Before that, I think I had visited just four shops in the four months or so of lockdown: (more…)

cycling safety + cycling stress

Oxford, Transport, — June 2020

Cycling advocates sometimes seem to get themselves into a knot trying to distinguish subjective and objective cycling safety. How can it be safe to cycle, while at the same time improving safety is a key priority?

I see two things that are central to resolving this apparent inconsistency. The first is that there is no dichotomy between safe and unsafe, and that safety profiles vary between people: in particular there is a difference between the people currently cycling and the people who could potentially cycle. The second is that there are longer-term dangers that appear neither to immediate observation nor in accident statistics — in particular, it is critical to take stress into account.

It is quite safe for me to cycle into central Oxford, either by myself or with my seven year old on a tandem. But it would be unsafe (at most times) for me to cycle that same route accompanied by the same seven year old on their own bicycle, or for most twelve year olds to cycle it by themselves. And I can cycle that route without much stress. But for some people, even some fitter and more experienced at cycling than me, that identical route may be really stressful, to the point where repeated, long-term exposure to it would be detrimental to their health. (more…)

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