'Cyclist' street in Oxford uses road-markings to encourage cars not to overtake

Jack Straw’s Lane between Marston and Headington has new £70k scheme - but not everyone is convinced it'll work

by Sarah Barth   June 2, 2013  

Bike passing Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford.jpg

Oxford County Council has spent £70,000 on a new style of road markings that it hopes will encourage motorists to give cyclists more room.

Jack Straw’s Lane between Marston and Headington has been transformed with buff markings on the road, which divide the lane either into cycle lanes or pedestrian areas.

It's an area that has long reported cars travelling too fast - and it's hoped that the new style of road markings will encourage them to stay behind cyclists rather than trying to overtake.

Residents of the road wanted it to be access-only, but police decided it would be too difficult to enforce, given the convenience of the route to the John Radcliffe Hospital.

The speed limit on the lane is only 20mph, but cars are regularly found to be going significantly faster in police checks.

Simon Hunt, of Oxford cycling campaign group Cyclox, told the Oxford Mail: “It is quite a novel way of doing it.

“I don’t know of anywhere else where they have done this.

“They are clearly trying to use psychology to make drivers go slowly but we will have to see whether drivers who haven’t been confronted with this before actually do.

“It is too early to say whether this can be rolled out across other parts of the city.”

Residents are sceptical as to the difference the road markings might make though.

Jack Straw’s Lane resident Roger Evans said: “I would say cars are going at exactly the same speed.

I don’t think anybody will know what on earth it is for and they will just carry on as they did before.

“I don’t think the cyclists have been educated as to what it is and nor have the motorists.”

17 user comments

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A photo would've been useful

Sean

posted by seanieh66 [193 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 9:59

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Description of the markings, and as above a photo?

posted by briano 55 [15 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 10:44

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seanieh66 wrote:
A photo would've been useful

Click through to the Oxford Mail article for a picture Smile

Vin Cox

posted by Vin Cox [44 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 11:09

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Hate to be negative but I really cant see that painting the road surface a funny colour is going to make any difference to an uneducated car driver.

Driver and cycle training is the way forward when trying to get everybody to use/share the road.

FATBEGGARONABIKE's picture

posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [572 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 13:55

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FATBEGGARONABIKE wrote:
Hate to be negative but I really cant see that painting the road surface a funny colour is going to make any difference to an uneducated car driver.

From experience that is quite an effective approach. I ended up on Landcroft Lane adjacent to the Sutton Bonnington campus of Nottingham University (http://goo.gl/maps/lplSJ).

That road has been narrowed and surfaced in a similar manner and I was seriously doubting that I should be on there in my car even though on maps it is clearly marked as the highway.

posted by cookdn [13 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 14:12

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I cycle up and down Jack Straw's Lane almost everyday to and from work. I had no idea that the road works were trying to improve the road markings for cyclists... pretty certain no one has 'told' the motorists either.

The 'markings' are tessalated bricks inlaid into the tarmac and they act as a very effective rumble strip (especially downhill). Given the speed limit is 20 mph, one hopes both cyclists and motorists have their speed appropriately curtailed, especially as the pavements are so congested with large trees that the pedestrians are often sharing the road with everyone.

£70,000 - is it worth it? I don't know, but I hope someone is measuring some outcomes. If it works, there are plenty of lanes in Oxford(shire) that could do with some effective car/bike/pedestrian sharing solutions.

posted by markscarfe [11 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 14:25

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cookdn wrote:
FATBEGGARONABIKE wrote:
Hate to be negative but I really cant see that painting the road surface a funny colour is going to make any difference to an uneducated car driver.

From experience that is quite an effective approach. I ended up on Landcroft Lane adjacent to the Sutton Bonnington campus of Nottingham University (http://goo.gl/maps/lplSJ).

That road has been narrowed and surfaced in a similar manner and I was seriously doubting that I should be on there in my car even though on maps it is clearly marked as the highway.

But you were still there even though you didn't know whether you had the right to.

FATBEGGARONABIKE's picture

posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [572 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 14:26

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There has been a lot of work done on the removal of markings and the like, to slow traffic in residential areas. Generally it works quite well.
We are all sheep, give us a lane and we stick to it - it becomes 'ours' and intruders are a nuisance, be they cycles or peds.
Take away the markings and we all need to assess where we can go and whether it is safe, not just follow our line. Time will tell. Interesting, though...

posted by Dr Max [10 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 14:27

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Used to do an evening job in the area in my much younger days, never used that particular road though. Just had a quick look on Google Maps. From Google Maps/Streetview, it's 400m of narrow suburban/semi rural road, the eastern end of which almost points it almost straight at the main entrance to the JR. A 20mph speed limit is about right for this sort of road. It should be noted that there's only been two reported accidents involving cyclists in the 5 years to July 2012 (and one of those involved two cyclists). Anyways... looking at the Mail article:

Quote:
In one speed survey carried out by the county council cars were clocked travelling at around 28mph on average despite the speed limit being 20mph.

This is apparently a matter of concern to local residents, let alone cyclists. And it hasn't changed since the new road surfaces were put in place. Either the vast majority of drivers are breaking the speed limit, or a minority of drivers are really breaking the speed limit. Pick one. Be interested to see if it reduces speeds on the road in the medium and long term though.

The quote (and my comments re recorded accidents) are drawn from the background information regarding this from Oxfordshire CC.

Oh. The picture at the top of this article is, er, upside down. Big Grin

posted by Argos74 [268 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 14:40

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Should also point out that going downhill on Jack Straw's Lane, they've had a speed activated 20mph sign for quite some time too.

posted by markscarfe [11 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 16:02

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My parents came across a good traffic speed slowing system in Spain.
It consisted of traffic lights and speed check cameras. If you went through the speed checks too fast, then the traffic lights turned red and you had to stop. If you went through the speed checks at the correct speed then the lights stayed green and you didn't have to stop.

Seemed to work well.

posted by Flippa [36 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 17:39

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Not convinced by this at all. A significant number of drivers don't pay attention to double yellow lines, and speed limit signs. They will soon learn that they can still drive down. It seems a very naive view that they won't

The Oxford Mail describes it as "Dutch style", and "bicycle only" even though vehicles can still drive along. Both descriptions are wrong in my eyes.

posted by gazza_d [189 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 17:47

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Dr Max wrote:
We are all sheep, give us a lane and we stick to it - it becomes 'ours' and intruders are a nuisance, be they cycles or peds.
Take away the markings and we all need to assess where we can go and whether it is safe, not just follow our line. Time will tell. Interesting, though...

There's a broadly similar scheme in Poynton (not far from Manchester) where they took out traffic lights and junctions and put in two roundabouts but with no markings. They also took out railings and lowered the kerbs to create a shared space, the idea being that drivers need to actually think before making progress so they have to slow down.

On the occasions I've used it, it seems to work well.

Google "Poynton shared space" for loads more info and photos.

posted by crazy-legs [489 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 17:55

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Flippa wrote:
My parents came across a good traffic speed slowing system in Spain.
It consisted of traffic lights and speed check cameras. If you went through the speed checks too fast, then the traffic lights turned red and you had to stop.

They have this one in Portugal too. The peer pressure of being the car that turns the lights red and makes a whole queue of cars have to stop and wait seems to be very effective, even where drivers would tend to ignore most other things.

posted by CarlosFerreiro [54 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 19:13

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gazza_d: Cars and bicycles must share streets in many parts of the Netherlands, particularly access roads.

posted by Paul J [561 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 23:58

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Been up and down this road a couple of times? Why not just make it a no through road? ie. put a couple of bollards up about a 1/4 of a way down?

posted by Sandy_l [25 posts]
3rd June 2013 - 12:28

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I cycle up and down it on my way to work, I hadn't realised thats what the bricks in the floor were for.

It was probably better while they where doing the work and limited access.

TBH I think the money would have been better spent sorting some of the ASL/cycle lane junctions in the area.

colonel wax's picture

posted by colonel wax [67 posts]
3rd June 2013 - 13:47

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