Connecting Oxford: Have your say on proposals to reduce congestion in Oxford – deadline 20 October

Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council have published ambitious proposals to reduce congestion in Oxford and are inviting the views of residents, commuters and employers.

CoHSAT, the Coalition on Health Streets and Active Travel (of which LCON is a member) has submitted its response which you can see here.

If you have not already responded to the proposals, please do so here by 20 October. Please feel free to refer to or copy CoHSAT’s points if you wish.

If you want to see less congestion, less pollution, more reliable public transport and more space for pedestrians and cyclists, now is your chance to influence the development of the city and county’s proposals. We believe the plans would make a real improvement to journey times for commuters and quality of life for residents.

The feedback will be used by the city and county to develop a detailed project proposal, including a full business case that sets out the costs and benefits of the scheme.

Below are a summary of the Connecting Oxford proposals, and the headline points from CoHSAT’s response.

Summary of the Connecting Oxford proposals

Oxford City and Oxfordshire County councils’s proposals aim to tackle congestion and the poor public transport connections into and across some parts of Oxford, particularly the city’s eastern arc (this is an area outside the city centre that links parts of north Oxford, Marston, Headington and Cowley). The measures include improving bus routes, particularly to the city’s ‘eastern arc’; traffic restrictions to increase space for cycling and walking routes, and a levy on workplace parking spaces to fund improvements

The key points of the Connecting Oxford proposal are:

  • Restricting car traffic by introducing additional ‘bus gates’ (similar to the restriction on Oxford’s High Street) across the city to improve journey times for people travelling into and around the city, and so road space can be reallocated to improve walking and cycling routes;
  • New high frequency fast bus routes connecting neighbouring towns and the Park & Rides to Oxford’s eastern arc (the area outside the city centre that links parts of north Oxford, Marston, Headington and Cowley), which is seeing the greatest growth in employment but is currently less well served by public transport, particularly around the ring road;
  • New and improved cycle and walking routes, including utilising space created by removing vehicles from the road to provide safe and attractive alternatives to driving into and around the city;
  • A charge for workplace parking provided by larger employers in the eastern arc, which would help fund the proposed transport improvements and create a disincentive to drive to work. Discounts for the new bus services would be available for staff of employers paying the workplace parking levy;
  • Improved journey times for commuters driving into and around the city as a result of less congestion.

CoHSAT’s response – headline points

CoHSAT wholeheartedly commends both Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council for their radical plans outlined in Connecting Oxford. Taking such bold steps to tackle demand is the only way to resolve the problems of travel in and into Oxford, with people stuck in traffic jams, creating congestion, air and noise pollution, and unsightly impacts on our beautiful city.

Congestion brings with it a cost in public health through increased noise and poor air quality and a perceived and real danger to active travel. It is crucial we tackle the root cause of transport problems – too many vehicles – in our City at a time when we should be addressing the climate emergency and championing and incentivising active travel and public transport above all else. Connecting Oxford’s recommendations have come not a moment too soon.

There is an urgency, so that the City is protected before the impact of imminent new housing developments makes the congestion and pollution much worse. We recognize and endorse the need for residents to undertake major modal shifts and for freight to adapt to a completely new regime.

CoHSAT believes that the recommendations should be strengthened and made bolder: the Councils should seize the opportunity to completely transform the travel experience in Oxford.

Guiding principles for transformation – safe, pleasant, segregated, continuous cycle, pedestrian and bus routes to be designed first.

  • The remaining space will indicate the necessary vehicle restrictions.
  • The physical segregation of cyclists and pedestrians from motorised traffic and where possible, the physical segregation of cyclists from pedestrians.