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‘Cyclists riding irresponsibly’ the only transport-related problem in Oxford city centre according to council survey

Active travel campaigners urge people to write to council flagging up other issues in consultation

Active travel campaigners in Oxford are urging people to complain to the city council over what are being described as “biased questions” in its survey on public attitudes regarding the city centre, with “Cyclists riding irresponsibly” being the only transport-related issue highlighted.

The Public Attitude Survey on the City Centre consultation was launched last November and closes this Sunday 12 January.

It is billed as “the first stage in a wider piece of work that will see the City Council create a vision for the whole city centre, including transport into and around the city centre, retail and tourism, and street furniture and public toilets.”

However, Oxford’s Coalition for Healthy Streets and Active Travel (CoHSAT) has put in a complaint to the council over what it sees as a “disproportionate focus on the negative behaviour of cyclists above the problems posed by any other form of transport.”

The complaint is based on the fact that there is only one transport-related issue that respondents to the survey are prompted to address, namely “‘Cyclists riding irresponsibly.”

CoHSAT, whose members include the Oxford Civic Society, Oxfordshire Liveable Streets, the Oxford Pedestrians Association and cycling campaign groups Cyclox and the Oxfordshire Cycling Network, has produced a template letter that people can send to the council as it stands, or adapt to add their own views.

The letter, which can be found on the Cyclox website, points out that other issues that the questionnaire could have addressed might include “dangerous driving, air pollution, noise from traffic difficulty crossing the road, the amount of city centre space taken by motor traffic, the amount of city centre space taken by parking, irresponsible and illegal parking, goods vehicles loading and unloading and loading freight, pedestrians walking irresponsibly, scooters being used irresponsibly and mobility scooters being used irresponsibly.”

It adds: “As such the Survey can not hope to give credible answers in this area. But we are more concerned about the attitudes it will develop and reinforce among respondents by encouraging them to think about negative behaviours of cyclists in an imbalanced way.

“This is a retrograde step from a Council that we generally consider to be supportive of cycling.”

Last month, See.Sense, the Northern Ireland-based smart bicycle light brand, announced a partnership with Oxfordshire County Council, which is the relevant highways agency for the vast majority of roads within the county and in the city of Oxford.

Under the partnership, some 300 cyclists living in the area were given the opportunity to but a See.Sense ACE rear light at two-thirds off the usual price, with the data captured by the device over a year-long trial helping inform decisions about where cycling infrastructure is most needed.

> See.Sense partners with Oxfordshire County Council to find out where cycling infrastructure needed


Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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matthewn5 | 4 years ago

I also responded to the consultation, as follows (to the various questions):

The main environmental concern in Oxford city centre is the domination of public space by motor vehicles. I carry a Flow air pollution monitoring device ( and the highest level of air pollution it has ever recorded was at the corner of Hythe Bridge Street and Worcester Street in Oxford.

There is absolutely no reason why motor traffic should be allowed to traverse the City of Oxford inside the ring road. Access should be allowed, but not through traffic (except for emergency vehicles). Motor vehicles dominate much of the centre of Oxford, including parked vehicles, limiting pedestrian and cycling to the margins. The vast majority of movement within Oxford is on foot or by bicycle, yet these users are relegated to the margins of most streets, with much of the public realm used for car parking, including within historic areas such as Broad Street.

The main issue of safety in the city centre is collisions between motor vehicles and pedestrians. From Oxford's own statistics:
- approximately 1,700 reported injury accidents
- around 30 deaths, 300 serious injuries and nearly 2,000 slight injuries reported
Against this background, all other safety concerns are trivial.
The use of motor vehicles in the city centre is by far the main cause of danger and injury in Oxford.

I would avoid Hythe Bridge Street and Worcester Street if I could, as they are highly polluted and busy and the pavements are very narrow and in poor condition.
Unfortunately they provide the only practicable route to my destination.

The city centre is dominated by motor vehicles, which provide a large and ever present source of danger to all other users of the city centre.
Much of the public space in the city centre is dominated by motor vehicle movements and motor vehicle parking.
Many pavements are narrow and busy and the danger posed by motor vehicles is ever present.

The questions in the consultation were bizarre and limited. One can only assume that it was put together by someone junior or very biased. Odd for a place that wants to become a 'Smart City'!

Danbury | 4 years ago

I've just completed the survey and indicated in the comments spaces that the consultation is extremely flawed, and ignores the greated source of danger to pedestrians and cyclists.  

Captain Badger replied to Danbury | 4 years ago
1 like

Danbury wrote:

I've just completed the survey and indicated in the comments spaces that the consultation is extremely flawed, and ignores the greated source of danger to pedestrians and cyclists.  


Same here. I've added thsi under environmental concerns

"I'm staggered that the only environmental issue that you are considering is cyclists. 

In 2019 a report, commissioned by Oxford Friends of the Earth, showed 22 Oxfordshire sites that still breached the annual Air Quality Objective for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels.

Cycling really is not an environmental problem. "

and this under safety concerns

"Dangerous and illegal driving and parking is hugely intimidating, and a massive risk to health from collisions and pollution. Try comparing this issue, which is not even mentioned, to the others

Might I suggest that you review your own website on road safety in 2017, and compare outcomes with the other issues mentioned - I quote:

an estimated 30,000 accidents of all types (including damage only and injury)
approximately 1,700 reported injury accidents
around 30 deaths, 300 serious injuries and nearly 2,000 slight injuries reported

Sadly I can't find the number of oxford residents who die each year due to pollution, but annually in the UK it exceeds 35000. Surely this and the above indicates to you where the real safety concerns are! "

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