The Coalition for Healthy Streets and Active Travel (CoHSAT) is a group of voluntary and campaigning organisations working across Oxfordshire to create attractive, accessible and people-friendly streets. We do this by encouraging efficient active, low carbon and sustainable travel, which will reduce traffic, air pollution and noise, and enable healthy and thriving communities.
We call on all candidates in the forthcoming local Council elections on 6 May 2021 to put walking and cycling at the heart of their plans for a fairer, healthier future.
Commit to increasing funding and delivery of ambitious walking and cycling schemes. This should include making temporary schemes permanent, fast tracking local walking and cycling infrastructure plans, and ensuring residents and businesses are engaged and consulted.
75% of residents in Bike Life cities across the UK support increasing space for walking and cycling on high streets and 59% support restricting through traffic on residential streets.
Aim to create walkable neighbourhoods which put the services people need within a 15-minute walk of their homes. This in turn supports neighbourhood development, high streets, jobs and the local economy while reducing transport poverty and isolation.
65% of UK adults agree that people should be able to meet most of their everyday needs within a 20 minute walk from their home. Yet evidence suggests most new settlements and urban extensions are located and designed in ways that exacerbate car dependency.
Design walking and cycling plans to address, and be evaluated against, how they reduce inequity. Prioritise infrastructure improvements in more isolated neighbourhoods, especially those which suffer from deprivation. Back this up with programmes and support for disadvantaged and marginalised groups to make walking and cycling inclusive.
The Marmot and Health Foundation Review published in February 2020 reported that inequalities have grown in the last 10 years across the UK. Covid-19 has exacerbated inequity further and disadvantaged and marginalised groups have been disproportionately affected in terms of health, education and employment.
This must include steps to reduce car use as well as electrifying vehicles. We must also continue existing commitments to reduce air pollution, including introducing Clean Air Zones and take more action to tackle particulate matter. This must be done fairly and alongside improvements to make walking, cycling and public transport more attractive than driving.
The Oxfordshire Climate Action Framework commits to “Enabling a Zero Carbon Oxfordshire by 2050”. Given the urgency of the climate emergency, we want to see a commitment to a zero carbon Oxfordshire by 2040.
This will help to ensure that people and their access to services is prioritised, while reducing car dependency. The principle is well established in the Local Transport Plan “Connecting Oxford”, but is not always followed when decisions are made. The hierarchy places people on foot at the top and people in private cars last:
CoHSAT wants a future where no journey has to be made by private car as there is always an alternative travel choice.
People walking and cycling will often use the most direct route to a destination, which will usually be along main roads. Main roads are often more dangerous for people cycling than quieter residential roads, especially at junctions. Cycling should be on segregated routes, physically separated from pedestrians and vehicles.
More on the Strategic Active Travel Network here.
Private cars have received numerous economic advantages over public transport in recent years and this needs to be reversed. There are some critical roles that OCC can fulfil to help this and the development of bus services: we need to start investing in public transport and only rarely subsidise the private car in future.
The starting point must be England’s Economic Heartland Transport Strategy: “In identifying future investment requirements we will prioritise those which contribute to a reduction in car journeys in line with the recommendations delivered by the UK Climate Assembly: to facilitate a reduction in the number of private car journeys by a minimum of 5% per decade (of total traffic flow compared with 2019).”
Every town and city needs traffic restrictions, parking reductions and the Workplace Parking Levy to make active travel and public transport the natural choice. A quick intervention would be to remove the subsidy of free parking, for example in Witney.
All refurbishment and maintenance schemes must take the opportunity to improve conditions for walking and cycling. The default speed limit should be 20mph for all built-up areas, not just on residential streets. The County Council should sign up to Vision Zero – a target of zero deaths and zero serious injuries in the road traffic environment.
When a new road is built, new traffic will be generated. Many people may make new trips they would otherwise not make, and will travel longer distances just because of the presence of the new road. This well-known and long-established effect is known as ‘induced traffic’.
For these reasons, CoHSAT asks the Oxfordshire Councils to oppose the planning and building of any new high-speed roads.