What is the road layout on Oxford's Iffley Rd and how is it supposed to work? The key features here are the use of advisory cycle lanes around a narrow central traffic lane with no centre line; between Donnington Bridge Rd and the Plain the cycle lanes are mostly 1.575m wide and the central lane ranges from 4.66m to 5.93m wide. (This was implemented on Iffley Rd as part of the "Quickways" schemes in 2022. A similar scheme was implemented on Magdalen Bridge in 2020; there the cycle lanes are 2m wide and the central lane is 5m.) more
Contra-flow cycling should be allowed on all the one-way streets in Oxford. From LTN 1/20: "There should be a general presumption in favour of cycling in both directions in one way streets, unless there are safety, operational or cost reasons why it is not feasible." more
This outlines a plan for a direct, coherent east-west foot-cycle route across Oxford's city centre. That would run from the railway station across the north of Frideswide Square, along Hythe Bridge St, George St, Broad St, Holywell St, and Longwall St, ending at Magdalen Bridge.
The current cycle training provision in our primary schools is inadequate and inequitable.
Imagine if primary schools ran a course on finance for Year 5 children, provided for free and taught in school time, but only offered to those children who already have an understanding of the basics - who already know what an interest rate is, say - and who already have a bank account of their own. That would, rightly, be condemned as hugely regressive, teaching children who are already privileged and knowledgeable even more, and exacerbating existing inequalities.
But this is exactly how cycle training works, certainly in Oxfordshire and I think across most of the country. more
Despite the research, I had always downplayed the psychological and social gains from traffic reduction, thinking of them as secondary to health improvements from increased physical activity - and perhaps as a bit "soft" and hard to measure. But my experience with the East Oxford Low Traffic Neighbourhoods has made me rethink this. more
Deaths and serious injuries — the target of Vision Zero — are just the tip of a much larger iceberg of road danger harm. In addition to the 20 road traffic fatalities and 450 serious injuries in Oxford over the last decade, there were 2800 reported slight injuries (all of those from the STATS19 police database) and (for cycling injuries, across Oxfordshire) ten times as many hospital admissions and attendances (this includes non-collision injuries which are rarely reported to the police). And there will be many minor injuries and collisions which are neither reported to the police nor result in hospital presentations. (Following Ling Felce's death at the Plain, I heard several people make comments like "Oh yes, I've been knocked off my bike twice at the Plain" and "No, I didn't report it either time.") There are even more near-misses and other incidents perceived as threatening. more
Oxford's Lye Valley area has poor walking and cycling connectivity, making it one of the more car dependent areas inside the ring-road (looking at 2011 census commute data). Two key routes could be upgraded to improve this, to the west across Lye Valley to the Churchill Hospital and to the south west over the golf course.
1) Put a proper foot-cycle track, with a bridge, across Lye Brook to the Churchill Hospital. 2) Upgrade the track across the golf course to Barracks Lane to an all-weather foot-cycle track, with a bridge across Boundary Brook to connect to Lye valley and potentially with zig-zags on the descent to Barracks Lane. This would require a legal change from a footpath to a bridleway. The likely form of any track would be a 3 metre wide shared path, with porous surfacing and embedded stud lighting, along the lines of the ones being put in across parks and fields elsewhere (e.g. across King Georges Field).) more
I think consideration should be given to turning off the signals at the northern end of Cornmarket and having that junction operate like the Holywell junction at the other end of Broad St.
I walk and cycle through this junction regularly, and there's pretty much always:
- a stream of pedestrians crossing on red across George St, as in the photo above - if they didn't they'd pile up and block the footways;
- pedestrians crossing haphazardly across the unsignalled Magdalen St West and Broad St arms, sometimes getting caught out mid-crossing by signal changes;
- mopeds and cycles going through red lights or using the wrong side of the road to turn from Broad St into Magdalen St West; and
- significant periods when buses and taxis and cycles are waiting even though the junction is clear.
The Charlbury Rd area in north Oxford has a major problem with road danger at school drop-off and pickup times. Large numbers of school-run vehicles arriving and stopping and departing in a short period of time create congestion, along with turning and reversing movements that endanger people walking and cycling.
Wherever possible, space for cycle or scooter parking should be taken from car parking space or spare carriageway space, not from footways or space for pedestrians. Pedestrians are at the very top of the transport hierarchy and private cars at the very bottom.
The Oslo Street Design Manual (in English) is useful. In particular, it has guidance for cycling infrastructure provision in the presence of hills, which is lacking from Dutch guidelines and standards.
But a very important flowchart, for determining what cycling infrastructure is needed in different circumstances, has two errors in it!
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 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
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