16 04 Cyclox Circular

Cyclox Circular April 2016

FORTHCOMING EVENTS

Martin Kraftl, Principal Oxfordshire Infrastructure Planner

Tuesday April 19th 7.30pm St Michael in the Northgate for Oxford in the County Council is coming to talk about the planning process, how competing interests are balanced, how transport planning works, how money for projects comes in, and perhaps some examples of the complexity of the department’s judgements. The aim is to have a discussion about the planning process in general rather than a council-bashing session.  Refreshments!

Laurie Taylor, Oxford City Centre Manager

Tuesday 24th May 7pm Town Hall Joint meeting with OxPA

Oxford’s City Centre Manager will tell us about her experience during the first two years in post and what plans there are for the future, no doubt also including the Westgate centre. See www.cyclox.org and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/1727190084226981/ for details. This is a joint meeting with OxPA so note earlier start time and different venue. A great chance to understand the workings behind the scenes in Oxford’s historic centre.

CAMPAIGNS AND CONSULTATIONS

Improving access to Headington

Competing with Tolstoy for the sheer size and scope of the work, the plans to help traffic around the inner ring road from Cherwell Drive to Holloway have taken Cyclox members to the limits of endurance in preparing their responses. Many members have responded as well, and in general we are in favour of making Headley Way more bike friendly, but understandably can see some downsides. Cyclox’ official response is on the website: http://www.cyclox.org/improving-cycling-infrastructure/c-access-to-headington/  . Simon Hunt has made a few cogent observations: “While welcoming more cycle lanes, I challenge the notion that these plans adhere to the standards laid down by LTP4 for cycle Super routes.  This project is the first to be drawn up under the authority of PTP4, and the specification in these proposals is not good enough.  The changes proposed may make only a marginal difference to attract people to choose Active Travel; what is needed is a quantum change… Unless additional improvements for would-be cyclists who are apprehensive about their safety, then a chief purpose of Access to Headington will remain unfulfilled, namely to tempt people out of their cars onto Active Travel modes.

A blog by Tony “Oxthreigh” is also worth reading: http://www.tonyox3.com/more-thoughts-on-access-to-headington/

Oxford’s next new railway station

Hardly has Oxford Parkway settled into phase one of its life than Oxford station announces the three front runners in their competition. Cyclox’s main interest is in access and parking for bikes and we will be assessing the options from this point of view

A campaign to restore and enhance St Giles

Peter Thomson, Chair of Oxford Civic Society writes: “St Giles is potentially one of Oxford’s finest areas, a wide boulevard surrounded by beautiful and historic listed buildings. However its current layout as a very wide dual carriageway flanked by car parking does it a grave injustice.  The best views are from the narrow central strip, which means that it cannot be seen to best advantage by anyone at present as this is a no-go area for its majority users, pedestrians.  The pavements and adjacent parking access area are very crowded, especially on the west side, and are made additionally uncomfortable and dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists by movements of cars entering and leaving the parking spaces. An area which could be a magnet for visitors and a place of recreation for all is currently dominated by motorised vehicles and featureless tarmac.

Oxford Pedestrians Association (OxPA), Cyclox, and Oxford Civic Society are working together to promote St Giles as a heritage area, which can fulfil its great possibilities as a public space for everyone.  Following the successful re-modelling of Frideswide Square, we note that there is mounting enthusiasm to do the same at the rather more deserving St Giles.

By narrowing the roadway to reflect its actual vehicle usage, space can be released for increased pedestrian and cycle movement.  One possible design would be a walkway along the centre of St Giles from which pedestrians could safely enjoy the vista of splendid architecture on all sides. This design would also make it easier and safer to cross east-west; our surveys have measured the high numbers of walkers and cyclists attempting to cross, at great personal risk, between the Lamb and Flag Passage and Pusey Street.   These surveys, carried out at various times of the day and the academic year, show that people on foot are consistently the greatest users of St Giles in every direction.

Our vision is of a beautiful public space with one lane of traffic northbound and one lane southbound with a second lane for bus use towards the southern end, the tarmac replaced with attractive paving outside these lanes. A widened central walkway appears to be the most popular way to achieve this, but a formal consultation would be needed to establish the best way of distributing the increased paved pedestrian areas.   The goal is to enhance the accessibility of this area of outstanding heritage value and to create a fitting gateway for Oxford from the north, as well as for the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter from the south. In 1777, Rev Edward Tatham[1] wrote: “St Giles, on account of its spaciousness, is capable of being made the most elegant street in Oxford…There arises a triumphant hope that Oxford… will shine out, …the boast and glory of England, the envy and admiration of Europe” Oxfordshire County Council has already presented a vision of a pedestrianised St Giles with trams replacing buses and cars, and the Council Leader has welcomed ideas from community organisations.  We believe our proposals could be a first step towards achieving a shared vision of this potentially beautiful space. ”

[1]             “Oxonia explicata et ornata. Proposals for disengaging and beautifying the University and City of Oxford”.  Tatham, E.  2nd Edition, 1777.  Page 7.

REPORTS

Oxford Cycle Shorts

Cyclox’s film competition reached its grand climax couple of weeks ago with a gala evening in Keble college who kindly let us use their O’Reilly theatre for a viewing of all the contestants’ films. The audience voted for a large number of categories and agreed with the independent judges that Jake Backus’ film ‘Down by the River’ was the overall winner, with Work Play by Silas Elliott in second place. While Jake’s film won popular acclaim, his role as organiser meant he felt he couldn’t accept the prize money and so it will go to the runner up.  The films are still on the website http://www.cyclox.org/film/ so if you haven’t experienced the joy of cycling in Oxford now is your chance. We would like to thank all the contestants who put so much time and effort into the competition, to Jake for making it happen and encouraging people to enter, and Keble College for allowing us the use of their perfect venue. Our plan is to have a short presentation ceremony at one of our open meetings in the next few weeks.

Cyclox Campaign Priorities

Thank you to the many members who responded to our request for comments on our priorities for the next 12 months. We are constantly reviewing our work, so this document will inform our thinking and be a steadying influence when the short term distractions appear over the horizon. The report will be on the website shortly.

OF INTEREST

Bike Oxford

Bike Oxford is organising a series of iconic supported rides from 25 to 80 miles on 11th September – www.bikeoxford.co.uk . Richard Best, Cyclox member and organiser of these rides nationally is looking for local firms to support the rides and get local publicity in return. If your business or employer might consider this, email rgb@iconiccyclingevents.co.uk

How should we respond to Government promises of more money for cycling?

Sadly the clue is in the title – ‘Laughable’. Chris Boardman and Helen Pidd have something to say about the government’s cycling investment: www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/mar/27/government-cycling-blueprint-no-boost-safety-laughable?CMP=twt_gu

GWR – not so great after all?

First Group’s railway franchise, the newly renamed Great Western Railway (copyright Brunel) are changing the rules and systems around taking bikes on trains. In essence we won’t be able to pitch up and put a bike on a train – every trip will need to be booked. Many of the GWR trains have the best bike spaces in the UK but they have decided to make life more difficult for us.  Perhaps a Eurostar like campaign is needed?

http://road.cc/content/news/183443-train-cycle-reservation-system-could-hit-commuters-hardest#comments

Survey corner

For those who can’t resist a survey, here are two: The institute of advanced motorists wants your views on driverless cars. As Dan Levy points out, driverless cars are more likely to obey the law and pass cyclists with plenty of room, so we should be in favour of them. Have your say: http://www.iam.org.uk/media-and-research/research/poll . And GEM motor insurance want your views on motoring offences: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/H6MXMHH

AND FINALLY…

A three act play with a happy ending – world premiere on Cyclox Forum

Act 1

Cyclox member Bridget Taylor notices that ‘No Cycling’ signs have been placed at both ends of the bridge over Botley Rd next to the bike sheds. She thinks it has been a shared use cycling and pedestrian bridge since it was built and wonders who or what organisation was responsible for installing the signs and whether there was any consultation with anyone? Dan Levy points out the bridge was in compensation for the unfriendly design of Frideswide Square in its previous incarnation. The Oxford Mail pick up the story with Broken Spoke having publicised it http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/14395436._Cyclists_this_way____no_cycling_allowed____how_Oxford_railway_station_has_been_baffling_bikers/

Act 2

Great Western Railway customer support advisor Mark Wray wrote back saying “access to the station is necessarily a compromise between the needs of different passenger groups”.

Spokesman James Davis told the Oxford Mail that it was not a mistake: “The signs show customers the way that the cycle path continues, while asking them to pay due regard to other rail users and not to cycle on a short section, the over bridge.

Act 3

Liz Batty took a photo on her way to the station and tweeted it to Great Western Railway to see if they knew who was responsible, and by the time she got back to Oxford in the evening the signs were gone. So it seems it was someone at the station who put them up by mistake and once again we can cycle happily ever after – at least over this particular bridge.