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School bike racks destroyed by speeding, out-of-control motorist, as pupils and teachers stage protest demanding introduction of 20mph limit

Since September there have been three crashes involving drivers outside the school, prompting the headteacher to ask, “How long is it going to take to make the road safe?”

Pupils and teachers at a primary school located on a road where three speeding motorists have crashed in the space of three months – one colliding with and flattening the school’s bike racks – have staged a protest calling on the council to introduce a 20mph speed limit and traffic-calming measures on the road, before a child “gets seriously injured”.

Barton Park Primary School opened in September 2020 as part of a new 885-home development and is located between Headington and Marston, about three miles outside Oxford city centre.

However, due to legal issues related to land ownership, Barton Fields Road, on which the school is situated, has not yet been adapted as part of Oxfordshire County Council’s city-wide 20mph “transformation programme”, which aims to roll out lower default speed limits in built-up areas where there is local support – despite a 20mph limit being implemented elsewhere in the Barton Park development in August.

And since September, three speeding motorists have been involved in collisions on the road, two of which have occurred directly outside the school’s gates. One of the incidents, which took place on 6 October, saw a driver crash into a houseowner’s stationary vehicle, prompting the police to launch an investigation into dangerous driving. A separate crash also saw motorist collide with a brick wall opposite the school.

Driver crashes into wall outside primary school in Oxford (Danny Yee)

(Credit: Danny Yee)

And in a third incident, the school’s CCTV footage captured a motorist crashing into and destroying many of the children’s bicycle racks.

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On Tuesday, the school’s pupils and teachers staged a protest urging the council to take action, with the children brandishing signs reading “20 is plenty” and “keep our roads safe”, while chanting “Our school is a safe place, don’t use it for your race”, the Oxford Mail reports.

The school’s headteacher Bryony McCraw also called on Oxfordshire County Council to install a 20mph limit on the road which could be enforced by police, as well as speed cameras, speed bumps, and a safe road crossing, with a petition demanding such measures reaching over 150 signatures so far.

“My question to the council is: ‘How long is it going to take to adopt the road and make it safe?’,” McCraw said.

“Is it going to take until all the houses have gone up or a child is seriously injured? The parents are really worried about it. The parents came to me at the beginning of the year and said, ‘what can we do to move this forward?’”

> Children take to the barricades to save School Street

The headteacher continued: “I think it’s really serious. There was that awful story back in the summer about the child that was tragically killed within their own school grounds in Wimbledon when a car mounted the kerb.

“I can see that happening here. People might say the speeding happens after school hours, but the children play outside.

“It would be too easy to bash into a child. At the very least we should get signs up really quickly.”

Meanwhile, one local described the road layout as a “bus route, rather than as somewhere eight-year-old kids can safely cycle mixed with motor traffic”.

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One of the protesters, year four pupil Tayo, also told the local paper: “I think it is important to stop people speeding past our school, because one day one person might be playing outside or crossing the road and someone could get hit by a car speeding past.”

Nine-year-old Saffiya concurred: “As we start to go into year six, some of us might start walking to school on our own and if speeding is still happening someone could get really injured.”

Responding to the concerns, a spokesperson for Oxfordshire County Council said: “The legal agreement for the adoption of the road outside the school is being held up by land ownership issues. We are working hard to resolve it, but it involves several parties, so it is taking some time. We cannot adopt the road without a Highways Act legal agreement being in place.

“Oxfordshire County Council cannot carry out speed enforcement, this can only be done by the police.

“We are asking the developer to install repeater signs, so that Thames Valley Police can legally carry out enforcement. The road has been designed with a 20mph limit in mind.”

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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35 comments

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chrisonabike replied to giff77 | 4 months ago
1 like

giff77 wrote:

I struggle with this concept that motorists need to constantly look down at their speedo to determine their velocity. It's not that difficult to determine your speed through road noise etc. 

Agreed - it's just training.  People tend to drive by feel (as you say from noise / vibration in particular gear etc) and we have generally trained ourselves that we need to aim for the feel of 30mph and above too often.  That, and "just do what everyone else is doing".  The latter could be framed as a bad side effect of cooperation - we don't want to hold others up...

Of course, if we repeated our actual driving traning more than "just enough to pass" then we might have a chance of remaining trained that we need to be a bit more deliberate about driving - e.g. noting and observing speed limits, making visual checks, not just following others...

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mattw replied to KDee | 4 months ago
1 like

Roads are still owned & managed by the developer - so the Council do not control yet.

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Patrick9-32 | 5 months ago
5 likes

Were the bike racks wearing High Vis clothing? Did the under construction building have a helmet on? Was the parked car a member of an out group, a member of which you once saw do something you don't like?

Pretty clear the driver can't be held fully responsible then!

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leaway2 replied to Patrick9-32 | 5 months ago
5 likes

To be fair, the sun was probably in the driver's eyes.

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David9694 replied to Patrick9-32 | 4 months ago
1 like

yes, they were but it merged with the background 

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