This project involved supporting a variety of existing and new active travel groups across Oxfordshire. It was led by CoHSAT members Oxfordshire Cycling Network and Oxfordshire Liveable Streets, and was co-funded by Low Carbon Hub and Midcounties Co-op Community Fund.
The original intention was to hold a series of face-to-face meetings and workshops to co-design the broad principles of traffic management and street design, with stakeholders including Councillors. Sadly Covid-19 limited to these ambitions, but we have made surprisingly good progress through the medium of virtual meetings and we are pleased to report on activity in several towns across the County.
CoHSAT convened a meeting largely drawn from members of Abibike and Abingdon Carbon Cutters in May 2020. This led to the formation of a working group that surveyed and designed a comprehensive walking and cycling network for the town, published in September 2020. The Abingdon Cycling and Walking Network Plan was developed by Abingdon Liveable Streets, a collaborative, community-based group which includes members of Abibike, Abingdon Carbon Cutters, Abingdon Freewheeling, Abingdon Health Walks and the Town Council. The plan is being actively considered by the County Council, with a view to including it in their LCWIP programme.
A number of individuals and groups contacted CoHSAT members during 2020 and they were eventually brought together for a meeting organised by Banbury Community Action Group (CAG) in January 2021. The engagement on the day and subsequent feedback was very positive:
“The Banbury CAG cycling initiative group is most appreciative of all the suggestions, advice, support and encouragement you sent our way. We will reflect on your suggestions and build on what we learnt last night, to take the project forward. We appreciate that even the ‘quick wins’ might be somewhat slow, but hopefully our enthusiasm and that of many other Banbury residents, will eventually produce results, and cycling will eventually be a safer, more pleasant, and therefore more common means of transport in the town.”
At the meeting, CoHSAT members stressed the importance of the following, based on our learning in Oxford:
1. Involvement and support of local Councillors is vital
2. A broad coalition of groups is important, particularly in a town like Banbury where levels of cycling are relatively low
3. While a network plan for the town is the ultimate ambition, advocating for practical measures that make a real difference is a good starting point
Bicester Bicycle Users Group (BUG) formed in 2019. CoHSAT has been advising them through the year while they developed and responded to road and housing developments. There is a particular issue with a high speed roundabout that we helped them raise to County Cabinet Member level (although the design has been improved it has not been changed from a high-speed design to a more appropriate compact design).
A few people got in contact with CoHSAT during 2020 and we put them in touch with each other, and gave them advice about how to proceed. They are now starting to consider developing a plan for a town LCWIP and a walking and cycling route to Kingham station, largely following the line of the old railway.
Mark Harrison, Chair of Farcycles is now leading a team to develop a walking and cycling plan for Faringdon. He has also volunteered to be a Cycling UK Regional Coordinator for the Cycle Advocacy Network.
Wantage Active Travel – a new group, started to form in 2020 and gathered momentum in the first lockdown. The first projects were supporting partial pedestrianisation of Market Place and input to the County Council’s Emergency Active Travel Fund bid (latter via CoHSAT). They have since been adding members to the interest group and having discussions via Zoom. They are now planning an online meeting on 17th Feb 2021 to kick off the next phase, which is to develop a walking and cycling plan – a ‘Community LCWIP’ for the town.