Cycle Paths and Signs

The first of the roadworks under the Access to Headington project is just about finished – changes to the junction of Old Road, Gipsy Lane, Warneford Lane and Roosevelt Drive. I went down to have a look. On the whole the junction looks good (it will be better when the Skanska work-site has gone). There are new traffic signals with advance cycle boxes on all four sides. We’ll have to see how the junction works in practice, especially when the next stage means all traffic leaving the Churchill will go this way.

But – and you can imagine my heavy sigh – once again it’s lack of attention to detail that spoils the final effect. @TomBedford12 was first on twitter to point out that the off-road cycle path (good) on Old Road approaching the junction can’t actually be reached without getting off and lifting your bike up a six inch kerb (very bad). That just isn’t going to happen.

The other issue is that the smart new cycle route signs are – once again – much too far off the ground. Cyclists’ eye-line tends to be horizontal or lower, and their focus closer than a motorist’s. They need to look at the ground to avoid obstacles and potholes in a way motorists don’t. Signs for cyclists need to be at about their eye-level.

This is a point I and others have made before. The first I remember locally was when the “NE Quiet Route” signs went up on the route from the Headington Roundabout via Old Headington and the JR to Jack Straw’s Lane and on to the City. I know for a fact that I and several others made the same point in the various consultations on the overall Access to Headington project1. Yet here we are with brand new signs well over 2 metres from the ground.

I’ve tried to find if there are any regulations about the height of traffic signs but I’ve not found any2. So why are these signs placed so high? My guess is that it’s a lack of detailed and intelligent supervision on the construction site. The drawing says “put this sign here”, so a standard pole is stuck in the ground and the sign put on top of it. All it needs is someone with sense to be saying “Hang on, it’s a cycle sign. Use a short pole instead.” Similarly, intelligent supervision would have seen that the Old Road cycle lane needed a dropped kerb.

I just hope we can get the message across in time to avoid a huge crop of problems of this kind when the really big works are done.

1. See for example my response (July 2015) to Access to Headington and Oxford Civic Society’s response (Oct 2015) to the Oxford Transport Strategy. I’ve made the same point in face-to-face discussions with the Highways engineers at consultation events.

2. I’ve searched the up-to-date TSRDG2016 (Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016) and the out-of-date Manual for Streets, but despite minute detail on the height of lettering, the size of sign panels, even the colour of poles, I couldn’t find anything fixing the height off the ground. So signs for cyclists can indeed be put at a sensible height.

Latest on the Heatpipe work

At the latest liaison meeting with Vital Energi we learned that the pipe-laying operation is slightly behind schedule but with no serious problems. Most of the delays are due to congested services and other underground problems that couldn’t be detected before the digging started. The contractors have also done some repair work to the surface water drains in Lime Walk which were blocked or broken. Here is the latest schedule, which is always kept up to date on the Hospital website.

Work schedule issued 23 Feb 2017
Work schedule issued 23 Feb 2017

We also heard details of how the London Road work will be managed. Traffic lights will be set west of Sandfield Road and east of Latimer Road. Two of the three lanes will be closed, with all traffic confined to the remainng single lane. The Latimer side will be closed first with all traffic using the eastbound bus lane; then the system will be switched so traffic runs on the westbound lane.

Both Latimer and Sandfield Roads will be closed at their junctions with the London Road for the duration of this work, with diversions set up for traffic needing access.

Headington Headlines #305

Your weekly round-up of local news for 13 – 19 February.

A man named Domingos Romalho died after a fatal stabbing in Windmill Road on Monday. He was taken to the JR but died in hospital. Windmill Road was closed for some time while police investigated the incident. Egidio Da Silva Alves was arrested the same day and charged on Wednesday with murder. He appeared in court on Thursday, did not enter a plea, and was remanded until April. A Thames Valley Police statement is here.

I wrote last September (see HH 282) about plans to build a new secondary free school, the Swan School, in Marston. Locals are concerned about the extra traffic an 880-pupil school would generate. There are now reports that the school could be delayed by as much as two years. @OldMarstonPC is holding a meeting about it this evening (Monday 21 Feb) at 6.30pm in the Mortimer Hall. Meanwhile at a Cabinet meeting tomorrow (Tuesday 21 February) the County Council will probably decide to sell the site to the Department for Education for £1 (yes, that’s One Pound) and then contribute up to £2m (that’s Two Million Pounds) towards the cost of the school – see item 9 on the Agenda.

The fact that 76 Sandfield Road is up for sale made the local press. Why? Because it used to be the home of J R R Tolkien. Apparently not everyone knows the name. It can be yours for a mere £1.25m.

After last week’s coverage on Radio Oxford the Oxford Mail has an article explaining why the City Council is against expanding parking at the JR Hospital.

A cyclist was taken to hospital with head injuries after a collision with a car in Bayswater Road, Barton on Tuesday. The car didn’t stop. @TVP_oxford have appealed for witnesses (incident number 233).

New Marston Post Office, which is in the Costcutter on Old Marston Road, reopened last week after a refit. It’s open for longer hours than before and offers a wider range of services.

The Nuffield Orthpaedic centre was partially closed for a time on Thursday while emergency services attended a ‘chemical incident’ involving chemicals used in a hydrotherapy pool.

Jacobs Chop House has re-opened after morphing into Jacobs Brasserie.

Active posts on the Headington & Marston e-democracy forum this week:

  • Petition to preserve the Somerset House pub on Marston Road
  • Proposed abolition of Oxford City Council
  • Local Government? Cuts to services? Is it time to bite the bullet?
  • Bells tolling in early hours
  • London Road – cycle path
  • This evening’s meeting with Cllr Roz Smith
  • Hospital parking

Headington Headlines #304

Your weekly round-up of local news for 6 – 12 February.

The @HeadingtonPlan has been through its final inspection and has been approved by the Headington Plan Forum. It’s now up to @OxfordCity to approve a referendum which if all goes well could be held in May at the same time as the County Council elections.

Three men were jailed for carrying out an armed robbery at Lloyd’s Bank in Headington in January last year.

The east Area Planning Committee approved @ScienceOxford‘s plans for the Stansfeld Field Centre site in Quarry.

The Oxford Mail carried a report about the City Council changing its mind over the demolition of a block of flats on Underhill Circus in Barton. The general regeneration programme there is still continuing.

We already knew that the City Council will take over a proportion of the new housing in @BartonPark_. It’s now reported that the City’s wholly-owned housing company which was set up last year will take over 95 units when they become available next year.

@BBCBentham on @BBCOxford radio did an item on Thursday about the suggestion that there should be a multi-storey car park at the JR. You can hear it on catch-up until 10 March. The first slot with Headington Cllr Altaf Khan starts at 39’10” and the second, with a multi-storey car park enthusiast from Birmingham (yes really), at 1h39’20”.

In other car park news, the patients’ car park at the Manor Surgery is open again at last. It looks well laid out with clear paved footways, disabled parking spaces and hopefully no more puddles!

Although Headington & Marston have a lively presence on the e-democracy forum some people have also subscribed to local messaging site Streetlife. This operation has been taken over by another, Nextdoor, which offers a similar platform for local discussion and exchange of information. Anyone thinking of signing up would do well to read the thread on the e-democracy forum, especially Stephanie Jenkins’ experience of being automatically designated “lead member”. And although it’s probably no worse than facebook, twitter or any other social media operation, you might like to read their privacy policy, especially as they require real names and actual street addresses.

There’s an online petition to save The Somerset pub on Marston Road, which closed in 2014. It was the last pub to survive in New Marston. The petition was started by Susannah Wilson and is supported by Councillor @joemcmanners. The Somerset is already listed as an Asset of Community Value, which gives locals first refusal if it is put up for sale provided they can raise the money

My favourite Headington-related tweet of the week:

Active posts on the Headington & Marston e-democracy forum this week:

  • Disruption
  • New Recycling promotion
  • Proposed abolition of Oxford City Council
  • Headington Plan – what’s next?
  • I see Streetlife a rival discussion site is merging with another site
  • Events on Oxford
  • Good neighbours in Headington
  • Using stocks as punishment in 19th century Oxford

Headington Headlines #303

Your weekly round-up of local news for 30 January – 5 February.

The planning application for the redevelopment of the Stansfeld Outdoor Centre is on the agenda for the East Area Planning Committee on Wednesday (8 February – item 4). The recommendation is that permission is granted subject to conditions.

The overnight road closures for the Access to Headington works at Old Road/Gipsy Lane/Warneford Lane/Roosevelt Drive start tonight (Monday 6 February). Here’s the full schedule. The work originally planned for Monday 13 February has been rescheduled. It will now be done on Saturday 11 February. Either way it will be the last of the overnight road closures for this work.

Both Oxford MPs, @AndrewSmithMP and @nicolablackwood, voted FOR the ‘Brexit Bill’ to give the Prime Minister authority to trigger Article 50. Both were supporting the Remain camp before the referendum.

The application to build at the top of Wychwood Lane, next to the C S Lewis nature reserve, is still not on the Committee’s agenda.

Did you know there’s an Oxfordshire Badger Group? There is, and they’re very worried about the effects of development on our stripey-faced friends. The A40 near the new Barton Park is apparently a particularly dangerous place for them. The Group is on twitter at @OxonBadgers

Headington Quarry Foundation Stage School joined twitter as @HQFSS_Oxford. They need your votes to help get a new climbing frame through the Tesco Bags of Help scheme.

Also new to twitter is Headington Reporting @OX3reporting, a site which posts examples of potholes, blocked drains and similar local issues. Despite the name it’s nothing to do with me, nor I’m assured with @HeadingtonNews.

And don’t confuse the Headington-based account @HeadingHeritage with the not-Headington-based @HeadHeritage.

My favourite Headington-related tweet of the week:

Active posts on the Headington & Marston e-democracy forum this week:

  • Disruption

Headington Headlines #302

It’s been a quiet week but here’s your weekly round-up of local news for 23 – 29 January.

There are some small delays to the schedule of roadworks for the Energy Project. The most up-to-date information is on the Hospital Estates Department website. Work on the next section of Lime Walk starts today and the next section of Sandfield Road starts tomorrow. Neither of these affect the diversion arrangements.

All my posts about the project are under the ‘Energy Project’ tab in the main menu, and there’s a page of links and contact details here.

There will be overnight road closures at the Access to Headington works at the Old Road – Gipsy Lane – Warneford Lane – Roosevelt Drive junction from 7pm – 6am between 6 – 13 February. Details including diversions here.

In what must surely be a forlorn hope, @TheOxfordMail reported that a Cowley restaurateur is prepared to buy the fire-gutted Jack Russell (Marston) pub and re-open it.

Addresses in Barton and Northway were among those raided in a major anti-drugs police operation on Tuesday morning.

Active posts on the Headington & Marston e-democracy forum this week:

  • Hedge Vandalism

Access to Headington Overnight Road Closures

The roadworks at the junction of Old Road, Gipsy Lane, Warneford Lane and Roosevelt Drive are getting closer to a finish. So that the roads can be resurfaced with new tarmac there’s a programme of overnight road closures from 6 – 13 February. The roads will be closed in turn between 7pm and 6 am, Here are the details from the County Council.

Monday 6 February – Old Road will be closed in both directions. The diversion will be via Windmill Road, London Road and Gipsy Lane.

Tuesday 7 February – Warneford Lane eastbound and Gipsy Lane (in both directions). The diversion will be via Morrell Avenue, Headington Road, London Road and Windmill Road.

Wednesday 8 February – Warneford Lane westbound and Roosevelt Drive (in both directions) will be closed. Access to Roosevelt Drive will be via Churchill Drive. The diversion for Warneford Lane closure will be via Windmill Road, London Road, Headington Road and Morrell Avenue.

Thursday 9 February – Old Road will be closed in both directions. The diversion will be via Windmill Road, London Road and Gipsy Lane.

Friday 10 February – Warneford Lane eastbound and Gipsy Lane (in both directions). The diversion will be via Morrell Avenue, Headington Road, London Road and Windmill Road.

Saturday 11 February (rescheduled from Monday 13 February) – Warneford Lane westbound and Roosevelt Drive (in both directions) will be closed. Access to Roosevelt Drive will be via Churchill Drive. The diversion for Warneford Lane closure will be via Windmill Road, London Road, Headington Road and Morrell Avenue.

The work we are carrying out can be noisy and we do apologise for this. We have a Section 61 agreement in place with Oxford City Council whereby we are only permitted to carry out certain work until 11pm.

After 11pm we will only carry on with the less disruptive work in order to cause as little disturbance as possible.