February round-up: your action needed

Three quick things you can do today to support safer walking, wheeling and cycling around Oxford!

A hand holding a stopwatch
Photo by Veri Ivanova / Unsplash

1: Cycle Quickways consultation (again)

You may have read about the County Council’s recent decision to approve the implementation of a number of Quickways measures to improve the safety of people riding bikes around Oxford. (See our previous posts on the recent Quickways decision and the Quickways proposals).

Among the most relevant of these measures for Headington is the proposal to remove all current on-road parking spaces to make space for wide protected cycle lanes on Warneford Lane.

Warneford Lane is a key link between Headington and both East Oxford and the city centre but is currently dangerous and unpleasant for cyclists, who are sandwiched between parked cars on the left and close-passing motor vehicles on the right and too regularly encounter harassment, dangerous driving and verbal abuse from impatient drivers.  This lack of safe cycling space coupled with routine parking in the currently unprotected cycle lane has a particular impact on the safety of children travelling to Cheney School and parents cycling to work with young children.  Without safe options for active travel, there is little prospect of reducing the number of car journeys around the area.

Now, due to insufficiently clear wording on the recent consultation, the County Council is reconsulting on the proposal to extend the ‘No Waiting at Any Time’ (double yellow lines) parking prohibition on both sides of Warneford Lane.

Please let the Council know your views – the survey only takes a couple of minutes to complete and can be accessed here. Responses need to be completed and returned by Friday 11 March 2022.

2: Decision time for the Cowley low traffic neighbourhoods

It’s now been a year since low traffic neighbourhood trials were installed in Cowley. On 24 February, the County Council will decide whether to make these trials in permanent, extend them for six months, or cancel them.

The Cowley LTNs are relevant for people in Headington who use active travel to visit friends or family or access shops and amenities in Cowley as well as those travelling through Cowley to get to places in Donnington, Iffley and Grandpont, or to use the Thames Path to get to Oxford city centre or Abingdon in the other direction. They’re also relevant for people living in all those areas who need to walk or cycle to Headington!

Although the trials have already brought a marked improvement for residents and people walking, wheeling and cycling around the area, it’s worth noting that the automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras for enforcing the two bus filters that are an integral part of the schemes have only been operational since late January 2022.  It’s our view that the schemes’ impact on people’s travel habits can only be fully and fairly assessed now that the scheme is functioning as originally intended.

If you’re affected by the Cowley LTNs, now is the time to make your views heard (before 24 February).  You could:

  • Sign and share Liveable Cowley’s letter of support for the trials
  • Write to Cllr Bearder at tim.bearder@oxfordshire.gov.uk to express support and provide personal examples of why you support the LTNs (N.B. Cllr Bearder is likely to be inundated with emails about low traffic neighbourhoods at the moment, so if you don’t need or expect a response it would be helpful to say that in your email!)

3: Remind the County Council about the need for safer roads in Headington

There’s still a lack of clarity on when the Headington LTNs consultation and trials will take place, and the timescales for the Headington LTNs on the County Council’s Active Travel website are out of date.

So, if you’re writing to Cllr Bearder (see email address above), please take the opportunity to remind him and your Headington councillors (find their email addresses here) that we also need LTNs in Headington as soon as possible to provide safer conditions for walking, wheeling and cycling and reduce the volume of motor traffic around the area!

What’s the latest on LTNs in Headington?

We understand that the County Council may be planning to align the Headington Low Traffic Neighbourhoods with the roll out of the wider Connecting Oxford traffic schemes (see Have you heard of Connecting Oxford?), and that the Council is anticipating releasing a ‘Connecting Oxford/LTN combined forward plan’ early this year, which we hope will give a firmer indication of timescales.

We’re keeping an eye on Oxfordshire County Council’s Active Travel website for any updates and seeking information from local Councillors and Council officers involved with the roll out of LTNs in Oxford, and will post any updates on our website and Twitter account.

Oxfordshire County Council’s active travel webpage for 2020-2022 says:

“The Headington and Quarry proposed LTN would involve the installation of filters in the New Headington area, Old Headington area, and Quarry area to restrict traffic movement in residential streets, making walking and cycling easier; and be delivered under an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order.

Engagement has included workshops with local stakeholders and door-to-door engagement.

The Headington and Quarry scheme proposals are still in the design phases and have not yet been subject to public consultation.”

On Experimental Traffic Regulation Orders (ETROs):

“It should be noted that if progressed LTNs will be implemented via a legal process called an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO). ETROs are used when it is very difficult to assess the impacts of the scheme beforehand, but the cost of implementation is relatively low.

In an ETRO, the council introduces the scheme as an experiment first and there is then a six-month period after the scheme is introduced when the public can see for themselves the impact of the scheme and the Council can monitor its impacts. At the end of the six-month period, the Council assesses the impacts, including any letters of support or objections, and decides whether to confirm, cancel or extend the ETRO for up to 12 months longer to allow further consultation and monitoring.”