Following the County Council’s decision to implement “Quickways” in January this year, the first wand-protected cycle lanes in Oxford have been installed on Warneford Lane.
Implementation of the new Quickway cycle lanes on Warneford Lane has involved the removal of all car parking spaces along both sides, resurfacing of the road, painting of bike symbols and new lines to demarcate the cycle lanes and installation of orcas and wands. The work was carried out between 26 June 2022 and 2 July 2022.
A long time coming
The new cycle lanes come as a welcome and long-awaited relief to people who need to cycle along this road, which many considered to be one of the most dangerous and unpleasant roads for cycling in Oxford.
The new layout has made cycling on this main road gateway between Headington and East Oxford significantly safer and less stressful, more convenient and more enjoyable.
Together with the recently-installed East Oxford low traffic neighbourhoods and the slightly older Cowley low traffic neighbourhoods installed in 2021, the new cycle lanes open up new safe active travel routes between Headington and East Oxford, Donnington, Cowley, South Oxford and the city centre.
Boost for cyclist and pedestrian safety
Importantly, the combined effects of the new protected cycle routes and low traffic neighbourhoods will dramatically improve safety for children travelling from East Oxford to Cheney School by bike, hopefully enabling many to try cycling to school for the first time.
An additional, and perhaps unexpected, benefit of the new cycle lanes has been an improvement in safety for pedestrians as well as cyclists: the removal of cars has greatly improved visibility all round – it’s now easier for drivers to see people on the pavements and for pavement users to see vehicles and bikes on the road.
As someone who cycles along Warneford Lane weekly with a 12-year old, the reduction in stress levels as soon as you enter the new protected cycle lanes and the joy of being able to cycle next to your child and talk with them as you ride along cannot be overstated.
There were high levels of public support for the Quickways in both the informal and statutory consultations that took place, with 75% in favour – as summarised in the County Council’s Active Travel page on Quickways. This has been echoed on social media since the cycle lanes were installed, with Tweets about the new cycle lanes attracting huge numbers of likes and positive responses (see below).
A good start but not nearly enough
Despite the shortcomings and imperfections of the new cycle lanes here (as summarised pre-implementation in our post about the Quickways consultation in October 2021 and post-implementation in Danny Yee’s blog on the new Warneford Lane cycle tracks), this is a really positive start and a bold move from the Council that will hopefully lay the ground for further and better active travel infrastructure in Headington and around Oxford.
Unfortunately, the Council is not planning any improvements to Old Road, London Road or Headington Road to help children who live in Headington, Risinghurst and Barton to cycle safely to Cheney School (or other schools).
Don’t forget about Headington...
The postponement of the planned Headington low traffic neighbourhoods (which were originally due to be implemented this summer) is a huge missed opportunity to create safe routes to school along minor residential roads using funding the Council had already received for this purpose from the Department for Transport.
This is also an issue for the growing numbers of Headington children attending Swan School, who have been denied a safe cycling route to school via Old Headington and Northway that would have been created by the modal filters proposed for Dunstan Road and Barton Lane.
If you want to see the same kind of safety benefits and active travel options that residents in East Oxford and Cowley now have thanks to the low traffic neighbourhoods in those areas, particularly for journeys to school, please get in touch with your local councillor to let them know, even if you only have time for a short message.
Your voice is important and will make a difference, as one of the reasons the Headington low traffic neighbourhoods have been postponed is due to a lack of support among some Headington-area councillors.
Positive responses to the new cycle lanes
Background on Oxfordshire County Council’s Quickways decision, active travel plans and consultation: