Cycling is at the heart of Oxford’s future
By Alison Hill
An open letter from the Chair of Cyclox to the new city councillors elected on Thursday 5 May 2022
Dear City Councillor
Congratulations on your election to Oxford City Council.
We know that your wish is for Oxford to be an attractive city free of congestion and pollution, with a healthy population, and a thriving zero-carbon economy that all city residents benefit from.
The future of our city is dependent on people being able to choose to travel in a healthy and sustainable way that minimises congestion and air pollution. We are looking forward to your support to achieve this through the following critically important initiatives.
As you know, the City Council and County Council are working together on plans to reduce traffic in the city. Traffic filters are a central component of the plan. These allow buses and taxis, and of course bikes, to pass through, but not private cars, or commercial and heavy goods vehicles. The filters will be positioned in and around the city, to reduce traffic passing through the centre. This should make a huge difference to traffic volumes on the main roads into the city.
There are also plans to reduce the amount of parking available. It is only worthwhile driving somewhere if you know that you can park. While traders are understandably anxious about reducing local parking, all the evidence suggests that local businesses thrive when streets are attractive and traffic free, with many more people able to access them by foot or bicycle. Your support in helping businesses to understand and accept this will be crucial.
Low Traffic Neighbourhoods
Many neighbourhoods in Oxford city are already free of through traffic and no-one is suggesting removing the traffic filters to allow more through traffic. The newly created traffic filters in East Oxford, though, are causing a lot of tension and division in local communities. This is a pattern seen in every city which has introduced Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. Elsewhere the evidence shows that they make residential areas much more liveable, healthier, and safer. While a few people are inconvenienced, the majority benefit. Please hold your nerve and support them.
The safety of our roads has become a compelling issue following the deaths of three young women in rapid succession over the autumn and winter. Cyclox is calling for Vision Zero, an initiative intended to end traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries by taking a systemic approach to road safety. Road deaths and injuries are unacceptable and preventable, and we want to work with you on making our roads safe for all road users in your ward, and across the city.
Necessary car journeys
Nearly all of us need to use a car now and then for journeys that simply can’t be done by any other means of transport. What this vision of the future allows is that everyone can choose a safe, healthy, low-carbon mobility, meaning that those who really do have to go by car are able to do so knowing that the roads will be quieter and less congested and their journeys will be much more pleasant.
You may have observed that I’ve hardly mentioned cycling until now, but cycling plays a key part of the vision of a healthy, clean, zero-carbon future. It’s good for the environment, it’s good for people’s health, it’s good for businesses, and it’s enjoyable.
Cyclox is the cycle campaign group for Oxford city, and we look forward to working with you over the coming years to ensure that cycling is at the heart of Oxford’s future.
Yours sincerely Dr Alison Hill, Chair of Cyclox