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Oxford road junctions: inhibiting walking and cycling

Oxford, Transport, , — November 2020

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…)

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, especially 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 can force people cycling to 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…)

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…)

cycling safety + cycling stress

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…)

lessons from Ghent

Oxford, Transport, , — May 2020

Oxfordshire Liveable Streets invited Filip Watteouw, deputy mayor of Ghent, to talk about the circulation plan they implemented in 2017 and how that has worked out. I talked briefly about how that was similar to the Connecting Oxford plans. And there were questions about different aspects of the Ghent scheme. There is a recording of that session.

I'm not going to go over the details of the Ghent circulation plan - as well as our video, for that I also recommend this Streetfilms video and a followup on the politics and pr involved. (more…)

ideas for rapid active travel shift for Oxford

Oxford, Transport — May 2020

In the light of government directives to reallocate space to walking and cycling, what should Oxford prioritise? (more…)

Oxfordshire Local Transport consultation

Oxford, Transport — May 2020

Oxfordshire County Council is running a consultation on its Local Transport and Connectivity Plan. This involves 28 brief topic papers and questions about them, but it is easy to respond to just one or two of those, so I would encourage anyone concerned about any aspect of transport within the county to lodge a response. The deadline has been extended to 17 May 2020. (more…)

everyday exercise

I'm really conscious of the importance of exercise, especially as I get older — I've read enough of the research on this to know how big the health implications are, and I've even heard Muir Gray talk twice. But I find it really hard to exercise just for the sake of exercise: I can't see myself ever joining a gym, buying household exercise equipment, or anything like that. (more…)

A School Streets scheme at Larkrise school, Oxford?

Children, Oxford, Transport — February 2020

Air pollution and road danger are among the greatest threats to children's health and lives in the United Kingdom; both are aggravated by motor traffic outside schools at pick-up and drop-off times. School Streets schemes offer a way of reducing this, through traffic restrictions outside schools during key periods of the day.

Road danger and air pollution are the primary concerns, but other gains from such schemes include getting more children walking or cycling to school, improving their fitness and health, and reducing congestion on the road system more broadly.

Oxfordshire County Council has plans to implement School Streets schemes at a number of schools, with Windmill being the first. These are pilots, and if successful would be used as models for other schools. Here I discuss the state of proposals for Larkrise, as the school I am most familiar with. (more…)

buses and bicycles (in Oxford)

Books + Ideas, Oxford, Transport, — November 2019

Bicycles have featured a lot in my blog, but the other key to sustainable transport, in Oxford as in much of the world, is the bus. Buses are central to Oxford's existing transport and will need to play an even bigger role in any sustainable future. More generally, such a future requires the world to transition away from private motor vehicles, with perhaps an 80% reduction in car miles in the UK, and the bulk of that transport "hole" will have to be filled by bicycles and buses. (more…)

cycling in central Oxford

Oxford, Transport, , — October 2019

Walking around Oxford's city centre can be pretty unpleasant, as I've written about before. But that pales in comparison with how awful it is for cycling. Yes, there are lots of people doing that, but there are even more people who simply will not cycle in central Oxford because it is too hostile and unpleasant. (more…)

an Oxford CPZ (controlled parking zone)

photo

The area we're in has recently been made a controlled parking zone, meaning that only vehicles with an area permit can park in it. Residents have to pay £60/year for a permit, with a maximum of two per house, and get a set of once-off vouchers for use by visitors or tradespeople. (more…)

Connecting Oxford

Oxford, Transport — October 2019

Hallelujah! Oxfordshire County and Oxford City Councils have realised that throwing money at small tweaks to transport won't get anywhere and, facing everything getting slowly but steadily worse, have come up with proposals for traffic reduction that would actually make a real difference. (more…)

passport renewal - art, banknotes, traffic

Books + Ideas, Transport, Travel, — September 2019

I had to go into London to renew my Australian passport, so I took the opportunity to visit some attractions: the Bank of England Museum and the Guildhall Art Gallery. (more…)

the priorities of autonomous cars - safety or convenience?

Books + Ideas, Transport — September 2019

At the Questacon science museum in Canberra there was an exhibition on robotics, which included quizes asking people how they felt robots should behave. One of those, probing the value of different kinds of human lives, asked what the software controlling an autonomous car should do if the brakes failed approaching a pedestrian crossing and the choices were to run over a child or an old person — alternative routes to the sides were shown crashing into brick walls. (more…)

bike parking in central Oxford

Oxford, Transport, — July 2019

I cycle pretty much past Oxford's Covered Market (down Turl St) daily, on my way home from work, and often want to get fresh vegetables or meat. But I never go there, because there's no bike parking. (more…)

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