The key goal of Vision Zero is "to eliminate all traffic-related deaths and severe injuries, while increasing safety, health, and mobility for all". Vision Zero was originally a Swedish idea, but it has been adopted by the Netherlands and by cities such as London, Oslo, Seattle and Denver — and now by Oxfordshire, along with some other local authorities and regions. (more…)
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. (more…)
Oxfordshire's cabinet recently adopted a "decide and provide" approach for transport planning, but that doesn't seem to be informing the plans for the traffic filters in the Central Oxfordshire Travel Plan. The St Cross traffic filter and cycling on Magdalen Bridge provides one example of this. (more…)
The Central Oxfordshire Travel Plan (COTP) is a fairly comprehensive plan to make transport in Oxford and its surrounds better and more sustainable. I support the goals of the plan and the actions proposed to achieve those, but feel that some things have been neglected or omitted. (I don't consider the three "core schemes" here, since there are few surprises there and each is going to have its own consultation, but instead focus on the other nineteen actions.) (more…)
Parking enforcement in Oxford is woefully poor and seems impossible to improve. This creates dangers for people walking and cycling and can impede motor traffic (especially buses). Higher penalties would provide greater deterrent to the most problematic offences, without requiring additional enforcement resources. (more…)
Zero Emission Zones (ZEZs) such as Oxford's should be reworked with general access restrictions that address all the harms done by motor vehicles, not just tailpipe emissions. In particular, Oxford's fails to address either particulate air pollution or road danger. (more…)
The junction of Longwall St and High St, in Oxford, poses some unusual design challenges. Along with Magdalen Bridge and the Plain roundabout, it is a key bottleneck in Oxford's transport network — this segment is probably the second busiest cycle route in the UK and likely the second busiest bus route. There are huge problems with this junction as it is, but the core schemes in the forthcoming Central Oxfordshire Transport Strategy offer a chance to redesign it.
A look at the new Warneford Lane cycle tracks, put in in 4-7 July 2022.
The plans for redesigning the roundabout south of Kidlington are inconsistent with both the county's headline car-trip reduction targets, its active travel goals, and its Vision Zero commitment.
How should the planned Oxford traffic filters work: what hours should they operate, what exemptions should there be, and so forth? To understand this, we need to understand their purposes:
- to allow space and time to be reallocated to make walking and cycling safe and accessible, especially at junctions
- to stop buses being congested and delayed, to have better and more efficient bus services
- to free up space (and reduce noise and air pollution) for an improved public realm
But while the goals may be the same, the unique geography of each filter — and the very different roads they are on — means that they may need quite different implementations. This can be illustrated by Hythe Bridge St and Marston Ferry Rd. (more…)
Based on a four day visit to York, I think its city centre should be a model for Oxford's. York has pedestrianised a huge chunk of its centre, and it's really great to walk around. After a bit it just feels entirely normal, just as it does in similarly pedestrianised European cities, and it really shows up just how horrible walking around central Oxford is.
At least during the daytime, outside loading hours, there are no cars at all, moving or parked in the core area of York. This means that one never has to think about traffic at all, or even about getting around parked cars, which makes for a completely different feel to bits of Oxford such as Catte St or Turl St or New Inn Hall St or Merton St or Pembroke St, where anyone walking is likely to encounter at least one moving motor vehicle and many parked ones. (more…)
Oxfordshire was recently awarded central government funding, under the ZEBRA program, to electrify Oxford's local bus services. Looking at the full business case for this, two things are clear:
- The ZEBRA funding for bus electrification is contingent on the traffic filters in Connecting Oxford.
- If we don't get the ZEBRA funding, we're not just going to miss out on electric buses - we're going to be facing cuts to bus services.
Here are some quotes from the business case, with some key bits in bold: (more…)
There are some relatively easy changes that would make cycling safer at the Plain — ones that can be implemented without engineering works.
Angle or stagger the give-way line on the Cowley Rd entry, so people on cycles don't have their view of approaching vehicles on the roundabout obscured by motor vehicles on their right. (Compare the give way lines on Iffley and Cowley Rd in the Google satellite image.) By far the largest concentration of reported collisions involve cars or cycles entering the Plain from Cowley Rd.
Two terrible deaths within a month have brought cycling safety to the fore, but the problems are not new and the Plain in particular has been a worry for a long time. Safety was the rationale behind the rebuild of the Plain in 2016 (which made things slightly worse), I used it as an example of junction design that failed to address walking and cycling safety and accessibility, and I tweeted about it just two weeks before the fatality.
Unfortunately there are no easy solutions, at the Plain or elsewhere in Oxford. Indeed I would argue that there are no significant improvements that aren't either very expensive or a long way from being Pareto (making no one worse off): witness the unhappiness about the parking removal in the Quickways and the modal filtering in the low traffic neighbourhoods. (more…)
Oxfordshire is introducing 20mph on many main roads, on rural roads where they pass through villages and on larger sections of Oxford's main roads. Here I look at what is happening - and should be happening - in Oxford.
Oxfordshire is still colouring bus lanes - as this newly surfaced example from just north of Folly Bridge shows - while refusing to paint cycle lanes. This prioritises helping a few inattentive or blind drivers avoid fines over safety for people cycling.
Oxford's Magdalen Bridge is plausibly the second busiest cycle route in the United Kingdom; it is also one of the busiest bus routes in the country and a major walking route. It is probably the most critical link in the city's transport system.
Connecting Oxford is absolutely central to Oxford's transport future. The new county government had been quiet about it until recently, but has made a clear commitment to it in the last few months. It is unclear how much of the details on the old web site are still current, but some of my thoughts on how to prepare for Connecting Oxford follow.
"Work on aspects of Connecting Oxford has already started. The aim is to have the workplace parking levy and traffic filters in place from 2023."
And the lead request for funding in the Bus Services Improvement Plan (BSIP) is for the traffic filters in Connecting Oxford. (more…)
The designs proposed for Woodstock Rd will be a huge improvement for walking and cycling.
The cycling provision will be taken off pavements, allowing for 2 metre wide footways. At some minor side entries there will be fully continuous pavements giving people walking unquestionable priority. Turning radii at side entries will be tightened, shortening crossing distances and slowing motor traffic. And five additional signalled crossings are planned.
If this scheme goes ahead as designed, Woodstock Rd will have the best cycling provision on any Oxford arterial route. It is not clear from the plans, but if I understand rightly the scheme involves stepped cycle tracks. These will be 2.2m wide for most of the route, will have clear priority over side entries, and will bypass bus stops, avoiding forced rejoins with the carriageway. The fundamental change is that cycling is now neither on the carriageway nor on the pavement, but given full recognition in its own right.
It's not perfect. Due to space limitations, there are places where the pavement is under 2m wide — 1.8m at the narrowest — and there's a fairly long stretch where the cycle track is only 1.7m wide. (The pavements have been prioritised here, only dropping below 2m when necessary to stop cycle tracks being narrower than 1.7m.) There are also a few "shared space" sections, due to constrained space around bus stops, to support less confident people cycling across Woodstock Rd, and (probably) to avoid having to remove trees. (more…)
Oxford's "Quickways" schemes may make cycling some trips faster for some people, but the biggest gains from them will be making cycling safer and more accessible. I will cycle some routes more slowly if these schemes are implemented!
So "Quickways" is a misnomer — "Saferways" would be much better. My previous post about these schemes focused on technical details. Here I want to focus on the basic road safety argument for them. (more…)