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Write to your Councillor for a Better Oxfordshire

The Department for Transport (DfT) have released money to help councils bring in cycling walking improvements. This is part of a long-term vision, but also to help counter the huge rise in car travel which may come as people avoid public transport, post COVID.  Helping people to cycle and walk, safe from virus transmission and motor traffic, also strengthens disease resistance and general health.

Oxfordshire bid for £600k in Tranche 1 a few weeks back but only got 50% of it, as the bid they put in included things which were about path maintenance and not the “meaningful reallocation of road space” that the DfT had requested.  Other councils that followed the instructions and submitted more ambitious schemes, like Cambridgeshire received 112% of the funds requested.

Even since then, they have backed out of one of the key proposals that would have improved cycling and walking in Didcot.

The County Council have another shot at the money, this time for £2.4m in Tranche 2.  They need to submit by 7th August and we need them to make ambitious proposals.

CoHSAT members, which include Cycling UK Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire Cycling Network, Cyclox, Oxfordshire Liveable Streets, and many other active travel and environmental groups have been pressing for a more ambitious approach which includes:

  • Segregated cycle lanes on Oxford’s key arterial cycle routes
  • Safe cycle routes to and around Oxfordshire’s market town centres including (but not limited to): Abingdon, Banbury, Bicester, Didcot, Wallingford Wantage and Witney
  • Footway widening at pinch-points
  • Connecting Oxford Plus: An extended version of the Councils’ proposal to stop private cars  essentially stops cars travelling across the city (while still being able to go in and out) based on the Dutch approach.
  • Low Traffic Neighbourhoods: Residential areas where motor traffic is discouraged and walking and cycling are encouraged by various measures

We have presented these proposals to Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment (including Transport): Councillor Yvonne Constance, and Director for People and Place: Susan Halliwell.  The reception is best described as between cool and lukewarm.  The Council is developing its own proposals, but they would not share these and we don’t know if they are sufficiently ambitious to win funding from the DfT and deliver schemes that will make a difference.

Please help us to persuade the Council to be bold in its proposals.

Things you can do – at home:

  1. Write to your County Councillor using the template letter below.  The more you personalise this, the more effective it can be.
  2. Follow the County Council, CoHSAT and other cycling groups on Facebook and Twitter.  Like and share posts about these schemes. Don’t get involved with detractors (the more engagement, the higher their post will show) but write comments to support posts which are supportive.

Template letter/email

To send to your County Councillor (find them at www.writetothem.com) – and CC Cabinet Member (yvonne.constance@oxfordshire.gov.uk)

Suggested email title: Let’s Build a Better Oxfordshire with Tranche 2

Dear Councillor [xxx]

I am writing to let you know my support for [any local scheme you are aware of e.g. the two bus gates in central Oxford this August, traffic restrictions making High St in Witney and Market Place Wantage better for pedestrians and people cycling] – thank you for introducing these!  From this great start, I ask that Oxfordshire County Council is as bold and ambitious as possible for the Tranche 2 Proposal for the Emergency Active Travel Fund.  There is overwhelming support across Oxfordshire for positive changes to our transport system in the post-Covid world.  

This is what I want to see for a Better Oxfordshire:

[Choose which measures you are in favour of here – add local ones or your town name where possible]

  • A massive cut in traffic and congestion throughout Oxfordshire
  • Segregated cycle lanes
  • Wider pavements
  • Pedestrianisation of streets in the centre of Oxford / Market Towns
  • Safer ways for children to get to school by walking and cycling
  • Low traffic neighbourhoods
  • Connecting Oxford Plus – starting with your planned trial of 2 bus gates and building to 7 gates as proposed by Oxfordshire Liveable Streets

I support the Coalition for Healthy Streets and Active Travel (CoHSAT) proposals for EATF2 and hope you will adopt these measures or something even more ambitious in order to meet the DfT’s requirement for swift and meaningful plans to reallocate road space to pedestrians and cyclists.

We know from other cities around the world (London, Paris, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Ghent, Utrecht and many more) that these measures are hugely popular when implemented and they give these places huge benefits, including safer walking and cycling, a boost for the local economy, a cut in air pollution (high air pollution has been linked to Covid-19 deaths) and faster and more efficient journeys for everyone.  

We have an opportunity to build a Better Oxfordshire for the post-Covid world.  Let’s take this opportunity with both hands.  I look forward to seeing a bold and ambitious Tranche 2 Proposal based on these elements.

Best regards,

[your name]

[Town/village]

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