Headington LibDem Councillors
8 April 2015
Comments in response to LTP4/Oxford Transport Strategy
1. We welcome these documents as they provide useful baseline information, and we believe that the proposals are generally well-considered and innovative, although we find it difficult to make comments on some of the ideas as we do not feel we have enough information on which to give a view.
2. We look forward to the publication of proposals and options in respect of improvements to the A34 and to the public consultation later in the year.
3. We believe that any work undertaken by the County Council on the detail of the projects within this scheme should be informed by consultation with Parish Councils, Neighbourhood Forums and local councillors in the area. The emerging Headington Neighbourhood Plan is likely to include transport-related proposals and projects requested by the local community after wide local consultation, and a continuing good working relationship between all parties is of benefit to all.
4. We note that many of the projects listed in the Science Transit Strategy have no funding identified at this stage. The number of jobs in Headington has grown substantially in recent years and will continue to do so, particularly at university and hospital sites, and this, coupled with the lack of affordable and keyworker housing in the local area, has given rise to concerns about the volume and speed of through traffic, congestion and air pollution, and increased calls for more cycling facilities and connecting routes.
Strategic Environmental Assessment
5. We believe that insufficient weighting has been given to issues arising from the strategic environmental assessment: Appendix C – effects on human health. Specifically, the following issues require further consideration and/or resolution.
6. We note (p3-1) that the Association for Directors of Public Health recommends that 10% of transport budgets is committed to walking and cycling. We cannot find evidence in the proposals to show that this notional figure will be met by projects set out in the OTS.
7. Section 2.4 refers to the need for a road safety strategy within and beyond the county. There is also reference to the need for programmes of safety measures within the plan. The science transit strategy in section 3.7 suggests that technology and data innovation should be embraced, and we suggest that this should be extended to unlocking accident and near miss data too.
8. Accident numbers at junctions have been highlighted, and we support further research on the most effective way to mitigate accidents and near misses particularly at junctions of “A” roads with residential roads in Oxford City. We believe that a transport safety advice team should be allocated a budget within LTP4 to research best practice and give advice and sign off to project managers on road safety-related matters.
9. We believe that insufficient weight has been given to the reduction of emissions, particularly in areas where there is a higher proportion of elderly residents and congestion is high, and that improvements in air quality should have a higher policy priority. (Section 2.9 Effect on the elderly). Overall air quality targets should meet those set out in district council air quality plans.
10. Promotion of urban tree planting to improve air quality should be a key objective rather than something that may be addressed at project level. We suggest that the County identifies the species of trees that are suitable in urban areas across the city where congestion is worst.
11. We note on p9, vol 2 section (i) that
Congestion has a serious impact on public transport within the Eastern Arc, making journeys on the orbital routes longer and less reliable (notably those which use the B4955)
12. Given that this is a very congested route, and that the number of vehicle journeys within the Eastern Arc are high, it follows that Bus Rapid Transit line 3 would be high priority. However the Science Transit Strategy document sets out the project for full electrification of BRT line 3 as “aspirational” rather than “proposed” with an implementation date of 2026-30 (which is odd as the “proposed” project to reopen the Cowley branch for passenger trains by Chiltern Railways with an implementation date of 2019-24 is described as intersecting BRT line 3). We suggest that the status of Bus Rapid Transit line 3 should be changed to “proposed” although we don’t have enough information yet to form a judgment on whether BRT lines are workable.
13. We also note that the need for “a timed access restriction (e.g. bus gate or road user charging point) on Hollow Way” has been identified. It seems likely to us that this will displace some vehicle traffic on journeys from Cowley through to major employment destinations and schools in Headington. More vehicles may use Divinity Road and Southfield Road. Alternatively, they may use the eastern bypass, prefer not to queue up the Slade, and instead rat run through Headington Quarry Village which is a Conservation Area.
14. We suggest that consideration is given to restricting vehicular access through Quarry as a through route to Headington from the bypass, and that other commonly used rat runs are identified and analysed to identify measures to reduce the volume and speed of through traffic in residential roads, e.g. in Old Headington Village from the Green Road roundabout to Northway.
15. We recognise the difficulties in resolving tensions below:
• The need to ensure a quality of place in district centres on the radial routes (p11)
• The need for high quality BRT waiting facilities (p12)
• Minimising conflict between those waiting at bus stops and other road users by allocating sufficient shelter capacity (p13)
• BRT stops being inset from the main carriageway (p15)
• Transit hubs at district centres would maintain safe walking and cycle access by keeping people segregated from public transport and vehicle movements.
16. It is difficult to visualise how and where the above could happen in Headington District Centre, given existing highway widths. Would the County Council consider ‘buying back’ some of the privately owned frontage in front of the shops on London Road and land in Windmill Road and Headley Way?
17. We agree wholeheartedly with the statement on p22 of OTS vol 2 (i) which says: “Public realm improvements should be integrated into multi-modal access improvements in the centres of Cowley and Headington, to improve pedestrian footfall, promote local shopping and stimulate local regeneration.”
18. We currently see little in the OTS that will reduce the overall numbers of buses travelling through Headington. Is it possible to quantify the reduction in local buses that would follow from the introduction of BRT route 1?
19. We are concerned about the amount of disruption that may occur during construction on major routes where rapid bus transit may be introduced. The A420 London Road is currently being re-built, but electrification is not part of the spec. Does this mean it will have to be dug up again? How long would this take? And what negative impact would this have on local traders?
20. We feel that the evidence for a bus transit tunnel would be strongest between the Eastern by-pass and the JR hospital rather than in the City Centre, but we believe that such a proposal would be far too costly unless a major funding source can be identified.
21. We believe there is scope to offer some bus services to and from London and the airports directly from Thornhill Park and Ride, rather than from the City Centre, and there is space there for a bus ‘laying off point’.
22. We have reservations about some of the BRT routes which have been referred to by officers as ‘conceptual’, including the route across the Lye Valley, and require firmed up proposals so that we can make informed comments.
23. If CPZs are introduced across the City, there would be issues relating to the parking of commercial vehicles – is there a plan for how to deal with this?
24. Given that proposals refer to an increased need for taxi use, some consideration should be given to identifying areas for taxi and minicab drivers waiting for work outside the city centre
25. Short stay parking is at a minimum in Headington as our traders constantly remind us. A review of RPZs in the Headington area is long overdue.
26. The proposition to build above Headington Car Park was investigated fully and discounted from Oxford City Council’s Sites and Housing Plan 2011-2026 after widespread consultation.
27. Has the County Council investigated whether capacity has been reached at stakeholder workplaces e.g. BMW, all of Brookes campuses, or is there spare capacity for use by, for example, commercial vehicles? Could the County Council purchase access to excess spaces and derive income from these?
28. Workplace parking levies can penalise low paid workers if passed onto employees by the employer. Some employees commute to work by car because of caring responsibilities or because the time needed to take alternative forms of transport is prohibitive- does the County have a view on what is acceptable travel to work time? More detail is needed around this proposal before we can comment further.
29. We would welcome more measures to slow speeding vehicles in urban residential areas, this may encourage folk to use other means of transport.
30. To reduce congestion round the hospitals, a link from the A40 direct into the JR should be considered.
31. We would support a feasibility study to determine whether a system at Thornhill Park and Ride could be offered whereby hospital staff and patients could enter a code or swipe a card on entry to gain access to parking places which may be subsidized by OUHT and/or the County Council.
32. We would support further research and cost-benefit analysis of road user charging to inform further thinking.
33. We believe that insufficient consideration has been given to the promotion of cycling and walking as pastimes, rather than as modes of travel to work. Quiet routes are well-used and more could be developed.
34. The cycling routes outlined in the Connecting Oxfordshire document show that two cycle super routes stop at different points as they join the A420 London Road. We would support consistently signed and joined up cycle routes, particularly to and from schools and major employment sites. Cycling routes should be segregated wherever possible.
35. Innovative improvements to cycle routes and signage should be piloted in areas where cycling is a popular means of transport both to work and as a pastime. The ‘safety in numbers’ principle is best tested here, and improvements could then be rolled out to other areas of the City
36. Cycle super routes should be prioritised in areas with high growth in employment and/or housing. Purchase of land by the County Council to ensure that these routes meet the required standard should be considered.
37. There is a demonstrated need for better cycling connections between Cowley and Headington which is not sufficiently addressed in these proposals.
38. We believe that pre-signals for cyclists at traffic signal junctions would be well worth considering as these might reduce the risk of accidents at junctions.
39. The routing of cycle tracks around bus stops and bus shelters needs further consideration for safety reasons. This is a frequently reported concern.
40. We urge the County Council to encourage and work with hospital trusts and the universities to provide better routes and signage for cyclists on their sites.
41. More work can usefully be carried out to educate cyclists, in the workplace and school, and outside. There is scope for wider stakeholder and community involvement in cycling education projects. The County could also work with stakeholders to provide training for drivers of motorized scooters.
42. We fully support a city-wide cycle scheme e.g. Oxonbikes as we believe the Headington scheme has been popular, especially by those travelling to work.
43. We do not think that enough is done within the OTS to promote pedestrian transport. We would welcome a feasibility study or project to introduce puffin crossings more widely. These have sensors that detect pedestrians and also control traffic lights. The balance between traffic and pedestrians in residential areas and shopping areas should be more heavily weighted towards pedestrians in order to “ensure a quality of place” (see 15 above).
44. There are desire lines for pedestrian crossings which merit further consideration, e.g. across the A420 London Road at the Osler Road junction, outside the Bury Knowle Health Centre, and across the A40 dual carriageway connecting the Risinghurst and Barton communities.
45. We should like to see more projects to upgrade footpaths, which would encourage more people to walk as their chosen mode of travel. This would also help the elderly and those with mobility problems.
46. School travel plans promoting safe pedestrian routes should be given a higher priority. Changes could be made at junctions to encourage more walking to school.
County Cllr Roz Smith, Headington and Quarry Division
City Cllr Ruth Wilkinson, Headington Ward
City Cllr Altaf-Khan, Headington Ward