16 01 Cyclox Circular

Cyclox Circular January 2016

Cyclox Committee members wish all our members and supporters a peaceful and safe 2016. We look forward to meeting up withyou next year at our meetings, rides or stalls.

FORTHCOMING EVENTS

Cyclox social with OxPA – 26th January 7pm St Michael in the Northgate
Each year we have an informal get together with Oxford Pedestrians’ Association and Oxford Civic Society to discuss common concerns. We have limited places at the meeting so if you would like to attend ask Ruth Davis– harefields@hotmail.com who will be able to tell you if there are still spaces. Chris Church, who has recently started a new organisation for people who don’t drive, or want to drive less will be giving an introductory talk.

Prof Rachel Aldred talk on the NearMiss Project – 16th February 7.30pm St Michael in the Northgate
http://www.nearmiss.bike/  Dr. Rachel Aldred is a Senior Lecturer in Transport at the University of Westminster, and specialises in cycling research. One of her current research projects is the Near Miss Project, funded by Creative Exchange and Blaze. This has explored cyclists’ experiences of near misses in the UK with one academic paper and one policy report published so far. Notable findings have included the high frequency of near miss incidents (by comparison to slight injury collisions) and analysis of factors affecting their frequency and impact. Dr. Aldred will speak about the findings, ongoing analysis of the data, and policy implications.

Oxford Civic Society talk: Prof Danny Dorling – Thursday 11th February 2016 , Ship Street Centre,  Jesus College (The Bastion)
Cyclox members will remember 2014 AGM when Prof Dorling talked entertainingly about the complex influences on urban cycling. This is a chance to hear him speak again. OCS are holding a public talk on: “Restoring Oxford as the UK’s cycling capital”. The time is7.30pm for 8.00pm and the venue is just round the corner from the usual Cyclox venue. Entry is free to all, though it might inspire you to join OCS. Oxford Civic Society have an active interest in transport issues and Cyclox finds working with them very productive.

Dates yet to be fixed:
Hustings – Oxford City Council Elections – May 2016
Politicians’ Bike Ride during Bike Week – June 11-19th 2016
Commuter Challenge – from Oxford Parkway Station
Oxford Open Doors Bike Ride September 2016

Cyclox priorities for 2016
We have recently debated this and presented Oxford City Council with a list in September http://tinyurl.com/cyclox-priorities-2016
Our position on the different developments are on our website:
Westgate
Oxford Station / Frideswide Square
Northern Gateway
Canal
Old Road campus
Access to Headington, https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/access-headington
More generally we argue for more secure cycle parking provision, ideally a bike hub next to the Westgate development.

Oxford Cycle Shorts Film Competition
Cyclox committee member Jake Backus enthused young and old alike to create imaginative short films about the joy of cycling in Oxford. There have been over 20 entries and you can view them at http://www.cyclox.org/film/  The judges will decide the winner in February, and we hope to provide a showing of all the entries in a local cinema.

Cyclox Co-ordinator Appointed
We are delighted to report that Cyclox has appointed an administrative support person to work 4 hours a week to improve our efficiency in our campaigning.

Oxford Parkway opens
This great event was marred by the failure of the county council to make any attempt to prepare the cycle and pedestrian access to the new station. Belatedly there has now been some clearance of the pavement, but there is no signage and the route is narrow for a shared path next to fast traffic.  https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/cyclox-forum/QHCTHQPUYME

The road to hell is paved…
In a review of European cycle facilities, the British authors include a section of Uncommon Techniques which they did not find in studies outside UK/Ireland  INTERNATIONAL CYCLING INFRASTRUCTURE BENCHMARKING STUDY “The techniques we have listed were, by our definition, those that are present in many, if not most, of the study cities. In addition to what we saw, however, we were struck by what we did not see. Indeed, in most of the cities we visited, there was an almost complete absence of several ‘cycling infrastructure’ features that have been common practice in the UK for many years. However well-intentioned, these features are usually signs that cycling has not been taken sufficiently seriously as a valuable, everyday form of transport. Most are evidence of a failure to meet a fundamental best practice benchmark: cycle lanes/tracks that are of sufficient width, available 24/7 and don’t break, even ‘when the going gets tough’. The UK can and should aspire to such a standard of provision; and we consider the list likely to be helpful in reminding UK practitioners of a range of features that must be removed from our streets, if we are serious about increasing cycling levels.” Sadly we see all too many of these in Oxford.

But things are improving:
Our very own James Styring wrote about the opportunities to improve the East-West city centre route in his regular Oxford Mail column:  http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/13897116.On_Yer_Bike__Cross_city_route___s_launch_should_be_great_for_cyclists/

And the warm words are there: SEEIP for Oxfordshire – Strategic Environmental and Economic Investment Plan
Oxford Cycle City Plan 2017-20: This proposal will provide much needed improvements to strategic connectivity between transport hubs, employment and residential areas, creating a more joined up network of cycle routes aligned to commuting flows, in line with the principles of the emerging Oxford Transport Strategy. It will also create an environment and culture that encourages cycling at all levels, through promotion and engagement.
Oxford City Council has devised a three-year programme of priority capital measures, working with Oxfordshire County Council, Sustrans and Cyclox. The estimated total cost is £1.45 million.
But Oxford’s new Waitrose ends up with a cycle Z-bend apparently to accommodate illegal car parking- particularly ironic given the county strategy states it is Cycling Super Route!

Frideswide Square – pretty but not welcoming for cyclists
We are not convinced that the shared space for cycling will be useable – and what’s more it is minimally signed at either end. Letters have been rolling in to the Oxford Mail and Times:  http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/14033020.Campaigner_accuses_council_of_ignoring_safety_of_cyclists/ and when asked a OCC spokeswoman said: “Each route on road or off road has been designed based on British standards to meet safety requirements for all users” – it transpires the standards used are principallythose for urban clearways.

Cyclox argues for closing Hythe Bridge St to motor traffic
Cyclox Chair Simon Hunt has his to say: Cyclox objected strongly to the FS plans during the whole of their development. Key strategic decisions were taken by the planners over six years ago, contrary to our suggestions: they would not pedestrianise Hythe Bridge Street, and not force all inbound vehicular traffic to avoid the Square, using Becket Street instead. Both of these were wrong decisions, and missed major opportunities that would have made FS plans very different and much better for vulnerable road users.  They also rejected fully-segregated cycle lanes, though for a reason that might hold a little water.  Our current position is on our website at www.cyclox.org/improving-cycling-infrastructure/d-oxford-station-frideswide-square/.  This states our formal objections to the scheme.  Many of them remain unsatisfied.
Let me elaborate a bit, trying to see the County’s point of view too.  The scheme was, of course, designed by the County Transport planners and their subcontractors and consultants, notably Hamilton-Baillie.  The politicians (David Nimmo-Smith and Ian Hudspeth) don’t design, but have to take the ultimate rap.
The spectrum of cycling ability and confidence is continuous, all the way from those who have the experience, and are willing to take the Primary Position on the carriageway, claiming their space as a legitimate road user equal to a motor vehicle; through those with little confidence or experience (children and many women, especially); to those would-be cyclists who don’t at present, but would be willing to, saddle up if things seemed safer.  Cyclox thinks the last group is especially important, and lacks any real voice.
The Oxford Times published Simon’s letter on behalf of Cyclox,  calling for the removal of motor vehicles from Hythe Bridge Street.   It’s at www.oxfordtimes.co.uk/forum/letters/14137224.Remove_the_traffic_from_Hythe_Bridge_Street/.

Creating a safer junction at Worcester Place
Pratima Mitchell and James Young, residents of Fisher Row, presented the petition to the County council, thanks to Susanna Pressel’s support and suggestion in the first place.  It attracted over 1000 signatories in six days.  Thank you to all Cyclox members who contributed. The outcome remains to be seen.

While in Leicester:
Mark Treasure writes about nine things Leicester is doing right with cycling infrastructure: http://www.cycling-embassy.org.uk/blog/2015/07/07/nine-things-leicester-is-doing-right . Danny Yee comments: “It seems to me that none of these are things Oxford is doing well, or in some cases at all.  We could definitely do with more one-way streets made contraflow for cycling; cyclists have no or limited access to the only fully-pedestrianised areas of the city centre; any segregation at all (even temporary/light segregation with wands) seems to be against current OCC policy; cycle lane/path marking is far from consistent; forgiving kerbing is almost non-existent; I’ve never seen any experimental closures of lanes, and the only “boldness” seems to be in pie-in-the-sky plans for bus tunnels and suchlike that are simply never going to happen.”
And Philippe Crist has produced an excellent slide show to convince the most dyed in the wool petrolhead: Cycling Economy and Impact – Philippe Crist, OECD
And the economic argument has convinced Edinburgh to back bikes http://www.theguardian.com/environment/bike-blog/2015/oct/01/is-edinburghs-cycling-budget-making-the-city-better-for-bikes

Cycling and walking investment strategy
Things might change – the government has committed to dedicated funding for active travel: Funding for the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS) is the overwhelming top priority, DfT will soon announce how much money will be allocated to CWIS. The APPCG’s Get Britain Cycling report called for investment in cycling of at least £10 per person annually (which amounts to £450m for England excluding London), rising progressively to £20.

Lobby your county councillors for workplace car parking levy
Susanna Pressel, who with Jean Fooks is probably the most active cycle supporter in the county council, has persuaded the cabinet to consult on introducing a workplace car parking levy. Tell your councillor how important this is to reduce the volume of motor traffic in the city, and encourage modal shift. Your councillor is at: http://mycouncil.oxfordshire.gov.uk/mgMemberIndex.aspx?VW=TABLE&PIC=1&bcr=1

Giving Cyclox membership as a gift
While Christmas has gone for this year, it is easy to request a Cyclox membership for  friend or relative. At this time of year the lucky recipient gets 15 months membership. Details on our website http://www.cyclox.org/join-us/ . As a thank you we will also give a map and a slapband to the generous gift donor who introduces the new member.

Traffic in Oxford 70 years ago
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bKj4X3K9ro
Oxford streets in 1941 – we have seen progress, but the actual numbers of cars has increased perhaps x 8.

Westgate cycling provision
Graham Smith and Cecilia Fry met with Sarah Fuge of Land Securities who is managing the site. Here is Graham’s report.
1 – Cycle parking
– The bike parking currently by the Library is moved over the road.  I’ve not looked ‘over the road’ to see how realistic this is.
– There is a hub which may be seen as accessible although it is definitely ‘at the back’.  It has a storage place but details are sketchy.  It may well have to charge but this will almost certainly need subsidy, it wasn’t entirely clear how this would work.  I recall Sara Fuge hoping that it would be commercial.  It almost certainly cannot be and thus would end up as being taken-back by the Centre.  This needs follow-up.
– There is cycle-parking indicated on the south side of Thames St, this strikes me as useless for anyone using a bike.
– As predicted there is ample parking marked at the corner of Oxpens – Bus Route to the west/left of the John Lewis block. I regard this as useless for people going to John Lewis who will seek to leave bikes nearer to entrances.  We did not agree on whether this would prove to be an unused facility. Unless there are entrances nearby – which there aren’t – I’d say it will not be attractive and it makes up a big percentage of the overall provision. Is there a ‘tool’ considering distances and suggesting which racks are usable? The only realistic thought I have regarding usability is if this were to be secure and guarded!
– I need to see the plans again for any further thoughts.
2 – Cycling provision on the highway.
– I noted that the entrance to the underground parking is designed conveniently for drivers but it was not clear what safety for people cycling on Oxpens would be. The cycle lanes are all of the ignorable ’advisory’ type.
– Cyclox needs to be firm about the inadequacy of cycle-parking provision that is in desirable locations. The developers are reluctant to provide it. Clearly there will be some regime to ban cycling or cycle parking in the privatised space. The only plausible way forward would be for in-building or beneath-building provision as the project is too big for its site.  It’s the same issue as at the new station – site not big enough, cycling disappears.

And finally…
Danny MacAskill negotiated the Coullin ridge on his mountain bike (www.imbikemag.com/mountain-bike…/danny-macaskill-the-ridge ), now he rides the roofs of Gran Canaria. http://www.imbikemag.com/mountain-bike-news/2015/12/gopro-danny-macaskill-cascadia/

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