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"Plainly bad design, needlessly putting people walking and cycling into conflict"...

Cycle campaigners have rubbished plans to incude large amounts of 'shared space' in the redevelopment of Oxford's Frideswide Square.

Plans to convert the congested traffic hub into a more attractive public space have been a cause of controversy for years. Oxfordshire County Council's latest scheme is no exception.

This time the debate is over sections of pavement at Oxford train station that have no clear provision for cyclists.

Graham Smith, south-east councillor for cycling charity CTC, said: "After two years or so there has been no improvement in the proposals beyond the 'shared space', whereas the 2012 proposal had been to 'accept' that cyclists would use the 'footways' without permission. But real journeys have not been accommodated.

“I predict that the flow of people cycling is such that it will be unacceptable in an undefined shared space."

A submission by Mark Treasure of the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain said: “Appropriate, inclusive design for cycling, along a road like this one, should involve dedicated cycle provision, separated both from the carriageway and from footways.

“However, this scheme expects people either to cycle in the carriageway – not a realistic or enticing prospect for the vast majority of the population on a road carrying well over 10,000 vehicles a day, including many buses – or, more likely, to cycle on busy footways shared with pedestrians.

“This is plainly bad design, needlessly putting people walking and cycling into conflict, when the two modes could easily be separated, making both walking and cycling more attractive.

"There is a large amount of space available here that could be put to much better use. A scheme fit for future growth in cycling (to say nothing of existing demand, to and from the railway station) has to involve wide cycle tracks, separated from the footways by shallow, chamfered kerbing.

"These cycle tracks should pass behind the bus stops in the square, with clear crossing points for people accessing the bus waiting islands. This 'bypass' design - common in contintental Europe, and increasingly employed in new schemes in Britain - should be standard practice for a scheme like this one."

The Oxford Times reports that Oxfordshire County Council has started work on the £5.5m redevelopment, to be completed by December 2015.

Its three roundabouts, intended as an improvement over the present traffic lights, have also raised the ire of cycling campaigners.

Treasure said: "Cycling is simply ignored as a mode of transport at the roundabouts that form the junctions in this scheme, with no obvious passage through them for people already cycling on the footways, except (circuitously) around a series of suggested zebras. There should be clear paths for cycling through these junctions, separated from motor traffic, with perpedendicular crossing points on the arms of the roundabouts.

Smith said: "There is not adequate consideration or provision at the corners of the roundabouts. In many cases there is a general narrowing at the apexes, but this space could be used for segregated provision as has already been proposed for George St/Worcester St junction."

Council spokesman Paul Smith said: “We’ve had numerous discussions with cycle groups throughout the planning of this scheme and listened carefully to concerns.

“One of the most important things we’re trying to achieve is to keep vehicle speeds down to enable the whole place to feel more welcoming for pedestrians and cyclists as well as helping to keep traffic flowing more smoothly than now.

“If we provided cycle lanes on the road, the width of the road overall would increase to the point where we feel that vehicles will start to travel at higher speeds. This would make things less pleasant for pedestrians and cyclists.

“We have heard that there are still people who may not want to cycle on the road in Frideswide Square even if speeds are low and that is why we are proposing that some space in the paved pedestrian area of the square is shared between cyclists and pedestrians.

“We are happy to continue talking to cycling groups.”

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

9 comments

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teaboy [307 posts] 3 years ago
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Council spokesman Paul Smith said: “We are happy to continue talking to cycling groups.”

Maybe try listening instead?

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pmanc [210 posts] 3 years ago
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So the council spokesman is concerned that on-carriageway cycle lanes would make the roads wider and (presumably motor) vehicles will travel faster.

But the campaign groups quoted aren't asking for on-carriageway cycle provision!  102 None so blind as those who will not see.

This is classic two-tier compromise planning. Get in the road (and round the roundabouts) if you're man enough, and if you don't like it you can share a bit of pavement. Everybody (including drivers and pedestrians) looses. Why not just provide a decent wide direct separated facility that works for all the cyclists?

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Shades [344 posts] 3 years ago
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Shared cyclist/pedestrian space is pretty standard in Bristol; seems to work OK, although you have to keep your speed down when its busy and there's lots of pedestrians. The other option is the road and the usual perils and delays of congested traffic (which is often slower). I'd rather have a 'self moderating' shared space than some ugly and confusing cycle specific infrastructure.

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ChairRDRF [366 posts] 3 years ago
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"“If we provided cycle lanes on the road, the width of the road overall would increase to the point where we feel that vehicles will start to travel at higher speeds"

A. The discussion here is not about "cycle lanes"
B. If there is a concern about the road being too wide - then narrow it.

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fluffy_mike [103 posts] 3 years ago
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“If we provided cycle lanes on the road, the width of the road overall would increase to the point where we feel that vehicles will start to travel at higher speeds. This would make things less pleasant for pedestrians and cyclists."

Did this council officer really say this? Is he suggesting it's impossible to provide a segregated cycle track without making the road wider? Or to have mandatory cycle lanes without making vehicle go faster?

The man is an idiot, and clearly hasn't listened to any cycle campaigners and doesn't understand the first thing about carriageway design or traffic management.

Another crock of shit from a local council - plus ça change etc

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Edgeley [511 posts] 3 years ago
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It is even worse than the article suggests. There is no way to get to or from the pathetic shared space in the square to the west without using the horrible small radius bus infested roundabout.

It is a plan which will annoy drivers, scare cyclists, increase pedestrian discomfort with cyclists - and it is unsafe.

Oxford is second only to Cambridge as a cycling city in the UK, at least in part because it is so much more convenient to cycle than to drive here. But the County Councill is doing its best to discourage cycling.

(said with my Cyclox Oxford cycling campaign hat on)

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HKCambridge [224 posts] 3 years ago
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Shades wrote:

Shared cyclist/pedestrian space is pretty standard in Bristol; seems to work OK, although you have to keep your speed down when its busy and there's lots of pedestrians. The other option is the road and the usual perils and delays of congested traffic (which is often slower). I'd rather have a 'self moderating' shared space than some ugly and confusing cycle specific infrastructure.

It's pretty standard in most of the country, with a 2% modal share to show for it. It's disliked by pedestrians and cyclists alike, gives way at side-roads, filled with street furniture, driveways, and other hazards and impediments.

What was that whole issue about the Bristol-Bath path if shared paths work so well?

Shared paths turns pedestrians into enemies of cyclists. I've met people during road design consultations who were against cycling facilities, because they thought, not unreasonably given the evidence, that it meant sharing pavements with cyclists, and they didn't want that. I spend a lot of time as a cycle campaigner trying to persuade others that we don't want to share with pedestrians, and that proper, segregated lanes will benefit pedestrians too!

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tom_w [219 posts] 3 years ago
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Edgeley wrote:

It is even worse than the article suggests. There is no way to get to or from the pathetic shared space in the square to the west without using the horrible small radius bus infested roundabout.
(said with my Cyclox Oxford cycling campaign hat on)

Quite. It is absolutely guaranteed that cyclists will end up using the pedestrian crossings to access the shared area when approaching from the west.

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TechnoTim2012 [7 posts] 3 years ago
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The article omits this information
"The areas will have carefully designed paving slabs repeated through them showing cycle and pedestrian symbols. These will ensure all users to realise that cyclists are allowed to be pedalling through."

Shared space schemes generally work for cyclists in two ways. One it reduces the road traffic speed because drivers, having no obvious right of way, and not knowing if cyclists or pedestrians will get in the way slow down (as happened in Poynton) and the second is that cyclists as the above snippet reveals can take any route they like (that is how I read it anyway and what the documents associated with the plan show)

I am a bit bemused about the roundabouts, Poynton works because the roundabouts are not real roundabouts but merely virtual ones, these seem to be real which may be counterproductive as it reinforces existing driving behaviour.

So I suspect that the CTC rep is actually just like the doubters at Poynton and will actually be proven wrong.

I hope this actually is a success as I am campaigning for a shared space scheme in an equally busy junction in my own town where there is sadly, insufficient space for segregated cycle lanes.