One more bollard

By Andy Chivers

What is the most fun you can have on three wheels? Answer: Riding round Oxford in the sun on the electric assist tricycle rickshaw (or trishaw) owned by the charity Cycling Without Age.

I spent one hour in the company of Maddie (pilot), Mavis and Trish (passengers) from Fairfield Care Home while they rode into Broad St to admire the new meadows imaginatively set up by Oxford City Council. Even more thoughtfully, the council have left a wide route through for walking and cycling with new bollards at each end which will finally deter the car drivers. We applaud the council’s plans to give Broad St a different emphasis and hope it encourages the council to extend the trial to other areas – St Giles is the most obvious place that needs the same treatment as Frideswide Square – narrow traffic lanes and large public spaces for sitting, walking and chatting.

Our route south on National Cycle Network Route 51 behind Summertown was lovely until the locked metal bar where Dragon Lane meets Norham Road. This effectively blocks a trike like ours, which is just over a metre wide, and the obstruction meant we had to divert from the cycle route and join the busy Banbury Road.

Cycling this splendid chariot immediately reveals those points on quiet roads and cycle paths that fail the test of accessibility. It only takes one obstruction to render a route unusable for our trishaw and for those people using cargo bikes, bike trailers, or child carriers. To the city and county councils’ credit, the new bollards in Broad St are wide enough to allow the rickshaw through, but there are several places where a bollard leaves no space for anything more than a standard bike.

There should be no cycle route in our county which is unusable by our trishaw. This is something that Cyclox and other cycling groups in the county are campaigning for.

Back to the joys of our outing. We looked pretty unusual – the bike is really a sofa on wheels, and the passengers get an all-round view from their front row seat. We had people on the pavement waving, clapping, cheering, asking for a ride. One driver wound down his window to say how fun it looked. Having no roof above us (though there is a canopy, we removed it) Trish pointed out that she had never noticed the beautiful architecture on the top of buildings. The roses outside the Warden’s house in Parks Rd were in magnificent bloom. In Broad St there was a real buzz and we chatted with the people setting up activities for the next day.

What is the message from our jolly outing? Everyone appreciates getting outdoors on a nice day, and obstacles which prevent this should be identified and if possible removed. We saw many people in Broad St enjoying the new landscape. The task now is to make sure everyone can access it comfortably by foot or pedal. 

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