Headington Headlines #404

Your weekly round-up of local news for 28 January – 3 February.

Police continued with their emforcement operation against rat-running in Elms Drive, Marston.

Plans for the latest addition to Oxford University’s Old Road Campus will be on show on Friday 8 and Saturday 9 February. This is the new Institute for Developmental and Regenerative Medicine which will employ over 200 researchers. The exhibition is in Boundary Brook House on Churchill Drive, 4 – 7pm on Friday and 10 – 1 on Saturday.

Police are appealing for information about another back-door break-in, this time in Kiln Lane, Risinghurst.

It looks like Latimer Road is once again going to be the site of parking woes:

Headington seems to have an outbreak of door-to-door fish salesmen; whether it’s one group or several isn’t clear. While they may or may not be legitimate there’s always a worry about where the fish comes from, whether it’s been legally caught, and what recourse a buyer would have if it was sub-standard. Caveat emptor. Thanks to @ox_tale, @Howard_S, @JPDoy and @RobonaBike for information.

The long-running refurbishment of the Barton Community Centre drags on, with local residents reported to be unhappy about work on the site being left in an unsafe state.

My favourite Headington-related tweet:

Once again there were no new posts on the Headington & Marston e-democracy forum this week.

Headington Headlines #335

Your weekly round-up of local news for 11 – 17 September.

@Cheney_School joined twitter.

Both Anneliese Dodds (Lab, Oxford East) and Layla Moran (LibDem, Oxford West & Abingdon) voted against the second reading of the EU Withdrawal Bill on Monday night.

The largest piece of public art in Headington, “Origin” by Julian Wilde, has been shortlisted for an award for “excellence in public sculpture”. It is installed on the Old Road Campus.

A flyer from a local artist and writer, Michael Plockley, came through my letterbox advertising his portrait service. His website pockley.blogspot.co.uk/ shows he also paints landscapes.

Despite local concerns, @Oxford_Brookes arrivals weekend at Beech House seemed to go fairly smoothly. @Unite_Student had marshals on duty to help direct the parking.

My favourite Headington-related tweet:

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

  • Frontier Estates Multiple Site London Road / Barton Road
  • Walkers in downhill cycle lane – Headington Hill

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.