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CTC asks for urgent improvements at altered Oxford junction

Local representative regards junction as ‘an accident waiting to happen’

CTC’s Oxford representative has strongly criticised the new layout of a road junction in Oxford, describing it as ‘an accident waiting to happen’. The Oxford Times reports that the junction has only recently reopened following three months of work, but James Dawton feels the changes have made it dangerous for cyclists and drivers.

Dawton has written to Oxfordshire County Council regarding the junction between Worcester Street, Hythe Bridge Street and George Street which reopened on December 14.

“I regard this junction as an accident waiting to happen. It is the first time I have felt it has been necessary to put out a warning email to cycling groups about a dangerous design.

“The junction has been visually altered for those exiting Hythe Bridge Street. What was a left turn-only road has now been replaced by what looks like a full crossroads junction. There is no sign, temporary or otherwise, warning users of the fact that it is still turn left.”

The barriers and pavement separating Worcester Street from George Street have been removed and while cyclists may continue straight across the junction, it remains left-turn only for motorists. Dawton said he had already heard from cyclists who had experienced near misses there.

County councillor, Susanna Pressel, has asked the council to evaluate how the junction is working and make urgent improvements.

A council spokesman, Dominic Llewellyn-Jones, said:

“The county council met with cycling groups during the consultation phase to explain the design of the new junction at Worcester Street. Cycling from Hythe Bridge Street to George Street is not an illegal manoeuvre for cyclists and a sign will be installed soon to this effect.

“Road markings and a sign on the traffic lights indicates to motorists that it is left turn only if travelling from Hythe Bridge Street. In addition to this, red ‘new road layout ahead’ signs have been installed on all approaches to the new junction.”

Local cycling group, Cyclox, agrees with Dawton. Their chairman, Simon Hunt, said that the problem was a failure to allow a sensible route for cyclists to navigate across the new junction.

“The overall design is wrong in principle. The junction should be three-armed, not four, with vehicles using Park End Street instead of Hythe Bridge Street.”

The work has been carried out as part of the Frideswide Square redevelopment. In September, the plans were criticised by cycle campaigners for needlessly putting cyclists and pedestrians into conflict in shared spaces and for offering no clear passage for cyclists at roundabouts.

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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lizbatty | 9 years ago

Agreed, as far as I can tell the intended possible routes through the junction hasn't changed, so there is no obvious benefit?

You can now avoid Hythe Bridge St when travelling from the station by using Park End St and Worcester St and going straight across Worcester St at this junction. I assume this will come into play at some point during the station works when they need to close Hythe Bridge St.

pdf500 | 9 years ago

The past few times I've been along here I've just got off. I hadn't realised we're allowed to go straight on. That's utterly disastrous planning. I can't see what's been gained. We've lost a pedestrian island, added a hazard for cyclists, and not, it seems, added any flexibility for cars. Am I missing something?

stewieatb | 9 years ago

You fail to mention in the article the critical issue that makes it dangerous for cyclists to go straight on from Hythe Bridge Street to George Street: While those queueing along Hythe Bridge Street have a green light which is left-turn only for motorists, there is also a green light being shown to those heading south on Worcester Street, most of whom will turn right onto Hythe Bridge Street as if the layout had never been changed. This leaves any cyclist attempting to head straight on trying to dodge between the stream of right-turning traffic coming the other way.

Last time I rode the junction there was no indication that cyclists could go straight on from HBS to George Street. The new layout seems to have been opened in a very hurried manner, before the council had time to get the attendant signs up.

The junction in question is this one:,+Oxford,+Oxfordshire...@51.7536615,-1.2633684,111m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x4876c6a396af00a1:0xf241dbd3875176fa which as can be seen from the aerial photography, was previously two corners separated by barriers rather than a four way junction. This made sense as Hythe Bridge Street and Worcester street form a main road through the city for those coming in from West Oxford and heading towards St. Giles' and North Oxford (or vice versa), while George Street leads to series of bus lanes and dead ends in the town centre. Why the council changed the junction is unclear to me.

tom_w replied to stewieatb | 9 years ago
stewieatb wrote:

This leaves any cyclist attempting to head straight on trying to dodge between the stream of right-turning traffic coming the other way.

Exactly. And furthermore, because the road now looks like a crossroads, and will soon have signage to indicate cyclists can go straight over the junction there is the very high liklehood that many cyclists will not realise that they counter-intuitively need to give way to vehicles coming from their left (assuming they are on Hythe Bridge intending to cycle up George St) and instead will ride straight in front of the oncoming (from Worcester St) cyclists. It's a terrible bit of design.

stewieatb wrote:

Why the council changed the junction is unclear to me.

Agreed, as far as I can tell the intended possible routes through the junction hasn't changed, so there is no obvious beneft? And now it's much slower for the pedestrian to cross too? I'm guessing that the idea is to allow re-routing of traffic without having to remove the barriers like they used to - maybe to avoid accidents or because major re-routing will be required when the work by the station starts.

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