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Oxford roundabout scheme “still not good enough”

25 Mar 2014 Oxford safety infrastructure
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Revised plans to rebuild an Oxford city roundabout with ‘Cycling City’ money have failed to win over local cycle campaigners.

The Plain, by Magdalen Bridge, is one of the busiest spots in the city. Three routes from East Oxford converge here, funnelling into one road for the city centre – and Oxford’s extremely frequent bus services mean that cyclists must dodge very large vehicles to make their way round. 35 cycling accidents have been reported in the last five years, but many more are believed to have gone unreported.

Oxfordshire County Council is spending a central Government ‘Cycling City Ambition’ grant on roundabout works. It summarises the £1m plan:

“The scheme aims to encourage greater levels of cycling by addressing one of the key barriers/perceptive deterrents to increased cycling into and out of Oxford city centre. It would be on the basis that the preferred option is keeping cyclists on the carriageway and making it safer for them by reducing road space, tightening geometry of The Plain roundabout junction.”

The works will make the approach roads to the roundabout narrower, “promoting slower traffic speeds and thus making it safer for cyclists”. The plans would still allow coaches to park on the side of the road to pick up children from the nearby school, and retain the large loading bay used occasionally by Sainsbury’s delivery lorries.

Not going Dutch

The council claims that shared-use paths would have a “negative impact on pedestrians and other vulnerable users”, and that “there is insufficient space to provide facilities for cyclists completely off the carriageway – in any case, there would be a high level of conflict with vehicles at crossing points”.

But local cyclists have been underwhelmed by the plans. Simon Hunt, chairman of the city’s campaign group Cyclox, told the Oxford Mail that “We don’t think these changes go far enough”. An objection from a local CTC councillor, seen by, expresses bewilderment at “the particularly stubborn reluctance to acknowledge ‘hybrid’, Copenhagen-style or any type of segregated provision”.

Oxfordshire County Council has kept open the remote possibility of a Dutch-style segregated solution at a later date. It says: “Given that this scheme is stage one of a two stage scheme that would address the wider approaches to the junction, the concept of some sort of semi-segregated cycle lanes on the roundabout could be revisited at a later stage, when funding allows.”

Update: As expected, the plans were approved at a council meeting on Thursday 27th. Cyclox said it was disappointed, commenting: “These changes will hardly make any difference.”

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