Enough is Enough! 

By Alison Hill, Chair of Cyclox

Last week, Ling Felce died while cycling on The Plain in a collision with a heavy goods vehicle. Her death was three weeks to the day after Ellen Moilanen died at the junction with Oxford Parkway Station, also in collision with a large vehicle. Our hearts go out the family and friends of those women whose lives have been snuffed out in an instant.  

These two deaths – so close in time to each other – have devastated so many people in Oxford, not only those who choose to use their bikes for their daily journeys, but many others who want the city to be safe for all road users. The number of people who attended the vigil for Ellen on 15 February and for Ling on 8 March shows the strength of feeling. These deaths come after the deaths of Jenny Wong at the London Road/Headley Way junction and Sam Blackborow at Horspath Driftway. All these deaths are women, all in collision with huge vehicles.

Any death on our city’s roads is one too many. 

Cyclox has been warning the County Council for years about the safety of cyclists in Oxford. We have frequently objected to the designs (and re-designs!) of many roads, but the priority has always been to keep traffic flowing. Cyclists and pedestrians are given no extra space on roads or at junctions. It has often felt like we have been whistling in the wind.

Every death, every serious injury, every incident in which someone is put at risk, or frightened, is the result of decisions made in the design of our roads and priorities within our transport infrastructure. The deaths of Ling, Ellen, Jenny, and Sam were outcomes, not accidents.

But enough is enough. 

We are now demanding that the County Council prioritises the needs of people who walk and cycle. This means safer pavements, segregated cycle paths, safer junctions, reduced speeds, less traffic, better enforcement, and safe vehicles. Having spent decades asking, and advising to little effect, Cyclox is now demanding that the County Council adopts Vision Zero, a widely adopted concept that puts people before vehicles and calls for a fundamental change in the way we design our streets. 

We are demanding that Cyclox and our partner active travel groups are involved early in any planning for redesign of roads. Too often plans are presented at such a late stage in the design that it is impossible to influence them. It has been a dispiriting process putting hours of work into commenting on what we know are unsafe designs, knowing that it is unlikely to make any difference. 

We will be responding to the current consultation on the Local Transport and Connectivity Plan. That plan has bold targets for reducing car journeys, and delivering a zero-carbon transport network, that we applaud. But that is not enough. We will be demanding a commitment to zero pedestrian and cyclist road deaths. 

Cyclox has already met East Oxford MP Anneliese Dodds to urge action in making our roads safe for all road users. We will soon be meeting the County Council’s corporate director for environment and place, and we are in contact with County Council cabinet members responsible for transport, along with all councillors who champion cycling, to ensure they are taking action to press for better safety on our roads.  

And here’s what can you do as a citizen to ensure action is taken fast to make our roads safer. 

  • Write to your local representatives (City and County councillors, and your MP), saying that enough is enough: you want to see change happen fast to ensure safety for people who walk and cycle. 
  • There is a major consultation on the Oxfordshire County Council website which closes on 16th March called the Local Transport and Connectivity Plan. All you need to do is send in a response saying that you call for Vision Zero, and ask for segregated cycle lanes, safer junctions, less traffic, and better mirrors and side guards on all lorries coming into the city. 
  • Join Cyclox and add your voice to the call for Vision Zero. 

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