Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) is consulting on the transport strategy for Oxford and on six traffic filters as part of that. We are excited with these plans as they includes many things we have been campaigning for in recent years. Now we are asking you to support them through this stage of consultation, and some key input to improve them. There are consultations on each – please respond to them by 13th Oct 2022* – we give some guidance below.
*Date extended due to mourning period for HM Elizabeth II
Central Oxfordshire Transport Plan
The plan includes:
- A comprehensive cycle network, built to much higher standards, and a focus on junctions for improving safety.
- Improved bus services, with 159 new electric buses.
- Reducing car traffic with a Zero emission zone and traffic filters, to make it easier and safer to walk and cycle, and so buses are more reliable.
- Improving public spaces like St. Giles and making it easier for people to walk to shops and services (’20-minute neighbourhoods’).
- Reducing carbon emissions from transport, to be net zero by 2040.
We have worked hard to encourage the Council to be bold with this plan and like its breadth and depth (although it needs more on walking). The consultation is now closed and a decision will be made on 29 November 2022 – we will continue campaigning for its approval.
Follow this link for further updates from CoHSAT members Oxfordshire Liveable Streets.
Consultation response guide for the Central Oxfordshire Transport Plan
Q1 – Prioritising the Challenges. We consider all of these to be important challenges that should be tackled. Prioritise in the order you consider best (but don’t over-think it, they are all important).
Q2 – Prioritising the Outcomes. We consider all of these to be important outcomes that should be delivered. Prioritise in the order you consider best (but don’t over-think it, they are all important).
Q3-18 Agreeing and commenting on the outcomes.
Strongly Agree to all of the Outcomes. You can add comments to support these (optional – examples given, please adapt wording to your own).
Q19-20 Avoid/Shift/Improve framework
Strongly Agree to this framework. (You can provide more detailed feedback if you wish).
Q21-49 Questions about the 22 Actions in the plan. Each of these has a box for feedback on the Action. Respond to any that you have views on, but this is optional. CoHSAT, Cyclox, Oxfordshire Cycling Network, Oxfordshire Liveable Streets and other groups will be submitting detailed inputs on many of these areas. Overall, we are supportive of the general direction, but we are keen to see more details on many of the proposals, and keen to see them implemented.
Q50-51 Key Performance Indicators
Strongly Agree to these. (Again you can provide more detailed feedback if you wish).
Q52 Do you have a better understanding of the transport plans after the consultation?
We hope you will be able to say ‘Yes’, but it will depend on how much you have read and studied.
Q53 Overall question. (Optional – example given, but please adapt to your own words or substitute a different organisation for CoHSAT).
I strongly support this plan and am very keen to see it implemented. Only a fraction of the previous Oxford Transport Strategy was implemented and we are still suffering from congestion, pollution, poor bus services, and poor cycling and walking conditions – this all urgently needs fixing. All of the Challenges and all of the Outcomes are important. The Outcomes support each other, so it is not a question of prioritising, but achieving them together. The plan should include more for walking: improving pavements and resting places. I also support the more detailed response by CoHSAT.
Q54-64 About you. Answer these as they will kept confidential and used to build a profile of survey respondents.
Implementing the first major part of the Plan, the Council proposes six strategic traffic filters in Oxford. These will reduce private car traffic while allowing buses to flow more freely.
The filters are described in a separate Traffic Filter consultation web page, with a ‘brochure‘, maps and other documents. There are three public meetings (6 Sep in Oxford and 8 Sep, 4 Oct online) to learn more and ask questions. The 4 Oct event is at 6pm on this link. If approved in November, the filters would be implemented as an ‘experimental’ scheme from Autumn 2023, initially for 6 months.
CoHSAT supports the concept of strategic traffic filters, we think removing some private cars will nudge people into healthier, less polluting and less congesting forms of transport – freeing road space for those that really need it. The improvements to bus services will benefit those on the lowest incomes and with disabilities who cannot drive. The alternative of doing nothing just means that congestion continues to get worse. But we think the operating hours, and the large number of exemptions and permits may reduce the effectiveness of the scheme so it does not create safe routes for cyclists. We think:
- People are in the city centre almost 24 hours a day, so the central filters should operate 24/7 to protect them, and this would enable a traffic-free Hythe Bridge Street.
- The number of residential permits (100 per person, up to 300 per household) is too many and should be reduced to 24 per person per year to cover emergencies truly essential trips.
- Van permits may be open to abuse for personal journeys and should be tightly controlled to legitimate business users only.
Consultation response guide for Traffic Filters
Q1: Complete with relevant option for you
Q2: Complete with relevant answers for you
Q3: Support all, except ‘Residential / 100 permits’ – Oppose
Q4: (a) 100 permits is too many and will not result in much reduction in traffic. Two person households may even buy a second car to exploit the scheme. This will make the scheme unfair and ineffective, and the permit numbers should be far fewer, e.g. 12 or 24 per household. (b) Vans are important for business but may be exploited for personal transport and there are a lot of double cab vans and pickup trucks around. OCC should ensure that any vans permitted are for legitimate business uses only.
Q5: All: Mostly Positive
Q6: People in these groups are often economically disadvantaged or less able. They will find it easier to walk, wheel, cycle and take the bus, becoming more active, healthier and saving money. The disabled people who do need to use a car will be able use the roads more freely.
Q7: I am concerned that the large number of permits, exemptions and operation only for 12 hours will mean that traffic volume is not reduced by much, and that cycling safety is not improved by much.
Q8: There are challenges with this plan, but there are bigger challenges in doing nothing and letting traffic volumes increase every year, with increase congestion, pollution and health impacts.
Q9: The measures are good but there should be clear targets so the number of permits can be changes to ensure the targets are achieved.
Q10: The city operates almost 24 hours a day, so the central four traffic filters should operate 24 hours a day.
Q11 on: Monitoring and demographics. Complete as appropriate.