Cyclox response to Northern Gateway Consultation, Oct 2018

Cyclox response to the Outline Planning Application for Oxford North

 

Headline response

Cyclox welcomes the emphasis on sustainable transport.

Within the site under the control of Thomas White Oxford (TWO) there is cycle-user provision that is just adequate. We press for secure and covered cycle parking, differently designed for shorter-stay and longer-stay use, and with at least 10% of cycle stands to be suitable and easily accessible for inclusive cycling.

We are commenting on the transport aspects of the plan.  We object to the plans, as there are no safe and attractive routes that follow natural desire lines from the site to and from schools, workplace, shops, train stations, on continuous comprehensive cycle routes. We wish to see continuous, safe, segregated cycle access, built to Dutch CROW standards[1], in order to navigate the current barriers and impediments which are Peartree Roundabout (to Yarnton and Kidlington), and the Wolvercote Roundabout.

  • They need to be kept fully segregated throughout their length, not shared with the pedestrian path, to accord with both the Oxfordshire Cycling Design Guide, OCDS[2] and the Walking Design Guide[3].
  • The Wolvercote Roundabout is a significant barrier that prevents this. A grade-separated route across the roundabout is the only workable solution that can fulfil Policies 03 […encouraging a greater proportion of journeys to be made on foot, by bicycle, and/or by public transport…] and 04 of LTP4 […prioritising needs of different types of users in developing transport schemes or considering development proposals…] Forcing people on foot or cycle to wait several times to cross each separate carriageway across this very heavily trafficked five-arm junction flagrantly breaches these Policies.  An overbridge must be provided for those on foot and on cycle, that will link all five arms across a raised central circulation space above, and completely separated from, the motor traffic below it.  The ramps and circulation space must be lit 24/7 and must be gritted when the weather freezes.
  • The proposed connections to the canal route once upgraded are welcome because they provide non-hostile cycling access to and from destinations to the south and north along NCN5. But a quiet route like this can only ever be a daytime route, because of the over-riding ecological objections to lighting it.  This reinforces the need for grade-separation operating 24/7 at Wolvercote roundabout.
  • Connectivity of the Oxford North site to and from NCN51 including Oxford Parkway station is vitally necessary but is utterly unattractive and inadequate in the plans, since cycle users will be required to deviate via Five Mile Drive. Which future resident or commercial visitor will set off southwards, to reach a destination (Parkway) that is north of the site, being obliged to use a route that is 40% further (2.7 km when it could be 1.65 km or even less)? Access that accords with the natural desire line is essential from the northern margin of the Oxford North site, connecting to and from Parkway alongside the railway.  Most of the necessary land is owned by Network Rail, who have an interest in promoting straightforward access to its railway station.

 

 

Detailed response

Our response is informed by LTP4 (Policy and overall strategy[4]; and Oxford Transport Strategy), and the Oxfordshire Cycling Design Standards.  The formal Policies governing transport aspects of any development were published in the 2016 update of LTP4, agreed nem con by the County Council as highway authority.  Parts of the submitted plans for Oxford North ignore or breach these Policies as they relate to cycling.  Therefore, the plans must be revised or thrown out.

We welcome the principle of reducing the need for travel, and of implementing sustainable transport measures (Para 1.3.2 Transport Assessment).  We welcome the Framework Travel Plan to monitor and influence future travel behaviour.  We acknowledge the participation of Cyclox as a stakeholder in the consultations over the last few years, for which we are grateful.  However, despite our recommendations offered earlier, including at the Inspector’s Enquiry in 2015, the present plans in some respects still fall far short of what is needed for people living, working and prospering sustainably in the mid-21st century.  We judge that the aspiration to reduce the need to travel will not be fulfilled: few residents of Oxford North are likely to be employed there, and none of the children will be educated in schools there because there won’t be any.  The modelling shown in the Transport Assessment[5] contains optimistic assumptions about trip generation, and it is likely that there will be huge increase in journeys as a result of this development. The roads surrounding the area already at capacity, and congestion and air pollution will increase if further motor vehicles are added to the roads.  The OSM and VISSIM modelling shown on para 6.3.52 predicts three-kilometre tailbacks for the morning peak on the A40 West arm of the A40/site link road junction in the year 2031[6].  Paragraph 6.4.7 summarises: “…In the AM peak period, there is a balance in terms of capacity improvements through Peartree Interchange and along the A44 corridor, whilst queuing is predicted on the A40 West (eastbound approach toward Oxford) at levels comparable to that observed prior to the recently completed improvements at Wolvercote and Cutteslowe junctions….”  Every possible measure to promote modal shift to cycling, walking and public transport is going to be needed if Oxford North is to be successful.  This response is about cycling.

The cycle parking provision satisfies the bare minimum requirements (one space per 3 employees, 2 spaces for two bedroom residences and 3 spaces for three or more bedrooms). The cycle parking for residences and employees in workplaces must be covered and secure to avoid theft and vandalism, with differential design for shorter-stay and longer-stay use.  To be compliant with accessibility legislation, at least 10% of the spaces must be suited to non-standard cycles. Cycle parking needs to take into account all user needs, so as not to exclude or disadvantage riders of certain types of cycle. This includes people who use handcycles, tricycles, tandems, trailers and models adapted to suit the rider’s specific needs, as well as cargo cycles[7].

We are very concerned that this development will have a damaging effect on the health of residents and visitors.  The increased amount of traffic passing along the A44 and A40 will have a negative effect on air quality that will impact across the site.  We also feel that the plans as currently set out will not encourage active travel (cycling and walking) into and out of the site because of the problems that we have commented on below.  This is against the spirit of the County Council’s own Active and Healthy Travel Strategy [8]

Comments on the plans within the Oxford North site

A44 and A40 street boulevards: Within the site  the A44 and A40 boulevards have continuous segregated cycle paths. Without any justification they change into shared space near the roundabout. The entries and exits to the garage on the A40 and A44 give priority to cars so cut across the cycle paths which therefore cease to be continuous. This is totally unacceptable. We object strongly to the treatment of the cycle paths close to the roundabout. They need to be kept fully segregated throughout their length, not shared with the pedestrian path, to accord with both the Oxfordshire Cycling Design Guide, OCDS[9] and the Walking Design Guide[10]. They should be 2m wide, and bi-directional on both sides of the carriageway.  At all junctions where cyclists wish to turn right from the cycle path there must be signals, with frequent intervals (short phases) between light changing.

We do not accept the assertion that the link road Thomas White Street will only be used by vehicles accessing premises at the site[11].  It is bound be used as a short cut for vehicles travelling between the A40 and A44, to bypass Wolvercote roundabout when it’s congested. It should be made one way within the site, or have chicanes and other traffic calming measures, and a speed limit of 10 mph. We therefore object to the current design and request changes to prevent the street being used as a through road. There must be filtered permeability so that people cycling and walking can move through the site easily and motor vehicles can only move into and out of the site on the same routes, not traverse it.

 

Comments on connectivity with off-site cycle routes

We are very concerned about the connectivity between the Oxford North site with routes outside the site.  We object to the planning application on this basis.  It is in breach of policies 04 and 05 of LTP4, and of Policies TR4, TR5 and NG4[12] of the city council’s Local Plan (current and emerging).

The key issue is to ensure that segregated bike routes are comprehensive and continuous with other Local Cycle network, LCN, and National Cycle Network, NCN, routes, otherwise the cycle network fails. A route is only as good as its weakest link.  TWO will be contributing CIL funding to upgrading existing cycle and pedestrian infrastructure (para 5.8.3  Transport assessment part 2). No detailed drawings are presented however to demonstrate how every weak links will be eliminated.

A practical test whether a planned route and its engineered implementation are good enough to fit the purpose is to examine their suitability for (i) a 12-year-old girl resident on the new site, who should be cycling to Cherwell School unescorted, at all times of the school year (ii) younger school children resident in Oxford North making their journeys with their escorts to and from Wolvercote and Cutteslowe primary schools on foot, by scooter or by cycle..  The submitted plans for Oxford North completely fail this test.  The plans also must cater for all journeys by cyclists of all ages and ability (see appendix 1) and access by specialist cargo bike and bikes with trailers.  They fail this test too.

The Wolvercote roundabout is the primary reason why these tests fail[13].  There needs to be grade separation, to completely separate pedestrian ways and cycleways above, from motor vehicles beneath.  This will require an overbridge with ramped connections to both sides of each of the five arms of the roundabout.  Full grade-separation would significantly benefit motor vehicle flows, which are often near saturation at this junction.  It is probable that the spectacular visual statement[14] of an iconic bridge for cycling and walking would help modal shift away from private motor vehicles, as is required by LTP4 and as is admitted in the applicants’ Transport Assessment, noted above.

For those on foot and cycle who choose not to use the overbridge, the Godstow Road arm of the roundabout, which is currently a very hostile place to cross because of motor vehicles failing to signal their intentions to turn, must be signalised.  For all the arms, single-stage, not two-stage, crossing of both carriageways by those on foot and on cycles is required: the carriageway red phases in each direction must be synchronised to reduce the wait-time for pedestrians and those on cycles.  Many cycle-users currently prefer to risk using the carriageways on the main roundabout at Wolvercote, to avoid the extensive delays of getting round it using the cycle/pedestrian crossings.  This is extremely hazardous[15] and must immediately be designed out.  The cycle facilities must be properly designed – for instance the unusable stepped central reservation on Godstow Road must be made available as a cycle refuge.

Other ways need to found to get onto the site which don’t involve the roundabout and minimise multiple signalised crossings.  For instance, the proposal for Joe White’s lane to the canal provides a good link westwards to and from the site, but unless the routes are lit, they would only be accessible in daylight hours.

The gross deviation via Five Mile Drive connecting Parkway Station and the Water Eaton P&R with Oxford North is unacceptable, and is a breach of NG4. There is opportunity to create a route northwards alibi the desire line directly out of the site alongside the railway. Discussions with other landowners[16] should be held to negotiate access.

We welcome the proposal to signalise the Pear Tree roundabout (para 5.7 Transport assessment part 2). Signalised crossings of the slip roads to the A34 will greatly improve the connectivity to the cycleways on and alongside the A44 to and from Yarnton, Begbroke and beyond..  The unsignalised arm exitting this roundabout into the service station must be redesigned with much tighter corner radii, to reduce the threat it poses to those who walk and cycle.

We welcome the proposed footway-cycleway into Peartree Park and Ride to and from the eastern side of the A44.

 

 

Appendix 1 Journey scenarios

Pupil at Secondary school

Take a 12-year-old Bikeability-trained girl residing towards the northern end of the eastern site who wants to cycle to Cherwell School. Her journey would involve:

  1. Safely accessing then using the southbound cycle track of the A44: however, segregation stops a significant distance short of the roundabout, at the pinch point where pedestrian and cycle paths merge.
  2. Crossing two or possibly three arms of the Wolvercote roundabout if choosing the anticlockwise direction (i.e. up to six carriageways, A40, Godstow Road, Woodstock Road) – or the equivalent clockwise. Each crossing will be in two separate stages, with uncoordinated pedestrian/cycle signal phases.  The delays she would face during the morning peak traffic are totally unacceptable.
  3. Complicated manoeuvring to negotiate once onto the Woodstock Road. The inbound dedicated cycle path stops at Squitchey Lane, but that has no crossing of Banbury Road at its Eastern end.
  4. Negotiating the Banbury Road but avoiding the hazards of Summertown centre.

A responsible parent could not countenance approving, let alone encouraging, such a journey for their child.

Cycle commuter from the new Cotswold Garden Village to the city centre

  1. The north-side cycle track along the A40 takes her to the garage where she has to stop to allow motor traffic out, and then in.
  2. Between the garage and the roundabout there is no segregated cycle provision[17]
  3. She reaches the Wolvercote roundabout on shared provision
  4. She judges the risk of taking the road on-carriageway at the roundabout itself to be unacceptable. She is forced to accept the delays incurred by three successive two-stage crossings (A 40, Godstow Road, Woodstock Road).

    Commuters from Bladon, Yarnton, Begbroke or the large new proposed Woodstock development will welcome the signalised crossings at Peartree but will encounter the same unacceptable at-grade crossings at the Wolvercote roundabout.

Many other commonly-used employment-related cycle journeys are at present adversely affected by the Wolvercote roundabout.  For example:

  • Commuters between the Headington hospital/research sites and Eynsham/Witney
  • Residents of the canalside residential areas, from the planned Wolvercote Paper Mill development, and from Wolvercote itself wanting access to and from Parkway station.

The chance to improve cycling and walking by means of a grade-separated bridge over the Wolvercote roundabout must be grasped now, as part of the present planning application.

[1] Design Manual for bicycle traffic, revised edition (2016): www.crow.nl/publicaties/design-manual-for-bicycle-traffic-(1)

[2]https://www2.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/sites/default/files/folders/documents/roadsandtransport/transportpoliciesandplans/newdevelopments/CyclingStandards.pdf

[3] https://www2.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/sites/default/files/folders/documents/roadsandtransport/transportpoliciesandplans/newdevelopments/WalkingStandards.pdf

[4] http://mycouncil.oxfordshire.gov.uk/documents/s33704/Background%20CA_JUN2816R07%20Connecting%20Oxfordshire%20vol%201%20-%20Policy%20and%20Overall%20Strategy.pdf

[5] http://public.oxford.gov.uk/online-applications/files/C25D452528FD08C491AB539AE9A5482C/pdf/18_02065_OUTFUL-TRANSPORT_ASSESSMENT__PART_2__-_180731_TA_001-2020183.pdf

[6] Table 6.10 of the Transport Assessment

[7] http://content.tfl.gov.uk/lcds-chapter8-cycleparking.pdf

[8] http://mycouncil.oxfordshire.gov.uk/documents/s33761/Annex%203%20-%20Connecting%20Oxfordshire%20vol%204%20-%20Active%20Healthy%20Travel%20Strategy.pdf

[9]https://www2.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/sites/default/files/folders/documents/roadsandtransport/transportpoliciesandplans/newdevelopments/CyclingStandards.pdf

[10] https://www2.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/sites/default/files/folders/documents/roadsandtransport/transportpoliciesandplans/newdevelopments/WalkingStandards.pdf

[11] As a “Spine Road” the design must comply with OCDS requirements: “Where spine road serves a development of greater than 500 dwellings and connects to existing highway or primary distributor road at both ends, stepped cycle tracks are to be provided throughout on both sides of the carriageway”

[12] Policy NG4 states: Sustainable travel. The City Council will work with delivery partners to facilitate pedestrian and cycle improvements including:
Provision of three convenient cycle and footpath crossings of each of the A40 and A44…
Provision of a high quality cycle link to the new Oxford Parkway Railway Station
Provision of high quality pedestrian and cycle links from the site to nearby residential areas and facilities (including local schools) and connection with existing Rights of Way;
Planning permission will not be granted for development that compromises the delivery of these pedestrian and cycle improvements.
Planning permission will only be granted for new roads within or serving the site if they are designed to prioritise pedestrian and cycle movements and access to public transport.

[13] Significant details  specified regarding pedestrians and cycle-users in the DfT’s Local Transport Note “Signal-controlled Roundabouts”, LTN 1/09, have not been followed during the recent reconstruction of the Wolvercote roundabout, and need to be corrected now.  See https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/329062/ltn-1-09_Signal_controlled_roundabouts.pdfb

[14] Its fame could equal the Dutch circular cable-stayed bridge, the Hovenring.  Other precedents for elevated walking/cycling roundabouts are in Rzeszów (Poland), Oslo and Shanghai.  It’s time Oxford had one.

[15] Both the A 40 and A44 carry daily flows (AADTs) of well over 30000 vehicles, of which around 7% are HGVs (Transport Assessment; and https://www2.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/sites/default/files/folders/documents/roadsandtransport/traffic/tablea.pdf)

[16] We understand there are just two, so it is not complicated.

[17] Fig 5.1 and drawing 21714/5571/006 of the Transport Assessment