On Thursday 12 September the County Council’s cabinet member for the Environment (including Transport), Cllr David Nimmo Smith @DNimmoSmit1, will decide on the final arrangements for the latest London Road bus lane improvements under his delegated powers. The officers’ report summarises the comments and objections received through the public consultation exercise which took place in August.
The report recommends going ahead with the bus lane changes with only slight modifications. However, despite carefully thought-out suggestions from cycling groups (Cyclox, CTC and others), it seems there will be few or no improvements to cycling provision.
Quoting from the report:
16 the principle aim of the London Road Improvement Scheme has been to provide bus priority along this important route into Headington. The proposals as consulted on seek to maintain the current level of cycling provision.
These words are repeated several times in the report and its annexes, each time with the added phrase
without making the situation any worse than it already is.
17 A number of valid suggestions have been made by cycling groups and will be taken into account in any future work to investigate the possible provision of improved west bound cycle facilities on London Road. This investigation work could be incorporated into future project briefs generated by the LSTF currently available to the Council.
In other words, nothing will be done as part of this scheme but the Council will consider doing something if and when any further work is to be carried out.
This is confirmed in the report’s recommendations:
19(c)3 Provision of west bound cycle facilities on London Road be investigated separately to this scheme.
19(d) to instruct that further consideration be given to the concerns raised by Cyclox regarding the merging of cyclists and general traffic on the existing carriageway shared use footway/cycleway.
Taken together I think this must mean that if the report is approved as it stands, the Council will try to incorporate Cyclox’ suggestions for making the point where city-bound cyclists will leave the footpath and join the road safer, but any other work to provide a better cycling route on the south side of the London Road will have to wait.
This seems to be confirmed here:
Annex 1 – objections – Cyclox – 3. In order to give further consideration to the concerns raised by Cyclox in relation to the merging of cyclists on the existing off carriageway shared use footway / cycleway and general traffic, it is recommended that the proposal as consulted on is reviewed during the detailed design stage.
4. Some valid suggestions have been made by Cyclox therefore it is recommended that further investigation work be carried out into the possible provision of improved west bound cycle facilities. This investigation work could be incorporated into future project briefs generated by the LSTF currently available to the Council.
One small improvement is promised:
5. A request was also made by Cyclox to reinstate the faded yellow box marking at the sharp bend on the service road known as The Roundway adjacent to the McDonald’s restaurant to assist cyclists by deterring parking. It is recommended that this is retained but it should be noted that enforcement of this type of restriction would be required to improve its effectiveness and is unlikely to be a high priority for Thames Valley Police.
The response to all other cycling-related comments and objections is to repeat
These comments are noted and should be considered in any future review of cycling cilities on London Road.
It’s very disappointing that at a time when there’s significant and increasing political support for improving cycling provision, when the government is making money available, when over 100 MPs of all parties attended and supported the Get Britain Cycling Campaign in the House of Commons last Monday, when other cities are demonstrating a willingness to invest in cycling on a scale far greater than Oxford’s uncoordinated bits-and-pieces approach, that Oxfordshire County continues to be indifferent to cycling.
If you want to see the recommendations of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, including one that calls for “A statutory requirement that cyclists’ and pedestrians’ needs are considered at an early stage of all new development schemes, including housing and business developments as well as traffic and transport schemes” here’s the link. Wouldn’t it be good if Cllr Nimmo Smith embraced this initiative and instructed his officers to include more in the scheme than just a dropped kerb or two and a bit of white paint?