Car Free Broad St

Broad Street is a wide street in Oxford City Centre, just north of the former city wall. Parking bays currently dominate the middle of the road and it is also used for loading and by tourist buses.

A survey in 2002 found that the majority of the respondents wanted parking on Broad Street to be reduced or eliminated. Removing car parking spaces from Broad Street could transform the area, drawing more Westgate shopping centre visitors into this part of the city centre.

CoHSAT undertook a survey of customers entering shops in Broad Street and entering the Covered Market through the Market Street entrances, to identify the transport modes they used to get to town. The aim was to improve our understanding of people movement in Broad Street and the purpose for which people use car parking spaces and unloading spaces, in order to build the evidence base to present to policy makers and other stakeholders for healthy and sustainable street.

Our aim is for all motor vehicles (and car parking) to be removed from the whole of Broad Street, extending from Magdalen Street to Holywell Street, in order to create a city square like those of many equivalent medieval cities in Europe. This space should be used as a place to linger and enjoy, without the unsightly presence of cars, vans and lorries, creating noise and air pollution.

Two surveys we conducted in October 2019 found the majority of road movements were by cyclists (300 per hour), that the 25 parking spaces in the centre of the eastern end were generally full. The main through traffic was 80 cars and 50 vans and lorries turning into or out of Turl Street over a 2-hour period on both days. There was considerable illegal parking, mainly by vans apparently enjoying short-term parking rather than deliveries. A survey of 65 people parking their cars found they were there primarily for business (weekday) and visitors to Oxford (weekend). Many had been directed to park in Broad Street by satnav and would drive around until they found a central parking place. Convenience was their main objective, rather than access to the shops. The parking generates about £0.5m income for the County Council each year.

There is widespread support among CoHSAT members for the removal of all parking and traffic from Broad Street. We have recommended that the ZEZ red zone be extended to include all of Turl Street and the west end of Broad Street as a first step.

Read the full project report here.