Frideswide square – background

Frideswide-pictureFrideswide Square is one of Oxfordshire’s most important road junctions and public spaces.  There are on-going plans to improve the area, as part of a long-term master plan for Oxford station.

As long ago as May 2006, an Initial Analysis and Option Appraisal was proposed to the council by Hamilton-Baillie Associates. In July 2010 there was an Initial Presentation of options, and in October 2010, Richard Mann compiled a Cyclox response, and proposed an alternative design.

In 2012, the county council approved a plan, but this was scaled down after a bid for a £5m government grant was rejected.

In April 2014, the Oxford Mail reported that work will start in autumn 2014, and be completed by autumn 2015.  The article refers to a £5.5m boulevard-style design to create a large roundabout at the entrance of the station and two mini-roundabouts at the other end of the square in front of the Royal Oxford Hotel.  For Cyclox, Simon Hunt said We would have liked to have seen traffic incoming from Botley Road diverted away from the square, along Becket Street to Oxpens Road, and also traffic taken out of Hythe Bridge Street. But getting away from the forest of traffic lights has to be the thing to aim for.  Dan Levy, Cyclox committee member, also wrote a letter to David Nimmo-Smith, Oxfordshire County Council’s then Cabinet Member for the Environment, highlighting serious concerns about the present proposals.

In May 2014, the Frideswide Square project team have offered to meet with Cyclox and other interested groups to bring us up to date with the very latest on the scheme.  Cyclox is planning to take up this offer, and to continue to press for better provision for cyclists in Frideswide Square.

In August 2014, the Oxford Times reported concerns by Simon Hunt, chairman of  Cyclox, about the proposed roundabouts:  Any roundabout is always a concern for cyclists and here we have got three. Cyclists will shy away from them.  He also commented on the idea of cyclists needing to share space with pedestrians, saying “I think the shared space idea is a sensible thing to do as long as there are areas which are designated for pedestrians only, and that should be associated with areas that are for cyclists only.

 

In September 2014, Cyclox submitted a formal objection to the council’s latest plans for Frideswide Square.  This noted that “This scheme is intended to improve travel from and to the west for those using buses, their feet, and bicycles.  This scheme worsens conditions for cyclists, from the current unsatisfactory position to one which is dangerous and inconvenient, which will tend to bring cyclists into conflict with other users of the Frideswide Square, and which will strongly discourage cycling in Oxford (and which in turn means that fewer people will cycle, and hence congestion will be increased)”.

In October 2014, there were some amendments to the scheme, as reported in the Oxford Mail.  On behalf of Cyclox, Dan Levy followed this up with a further objection to the scheme, summarising that it is dangerous, a deterrent to cyclists, and incomplete.  The lack of protected bike lanes was a particular concern – which, it can be noted, are fantastic for walking safety too.

In November 2014, Cyclox committee members Dan Levy, Graham Smith and James Dawson met with council planners to further press the case for better cycling provision in the design, and followed up with a letter stressing their ongoing concerns.