A40 Improvements – OF’s response
Our thoughts on the A40 bus lane, Eynsham P&R and cycling provision.
21 December 2018
At the end of November 2018 Oxfordshire County Council invited public comments on the latest version of its plans to improve travel on the A40 between Witney and Oxford. Phase 1 focuses on building an eastbound bus lane from a new Park & Ride (P&R) at Eynsham to the Duke’s Cut bridge half a mile from the Wolvercote roundabout, and short stretches of a westbound lane. Work on this is planned to start in 2019.
Phase 2 sees the creation of a dual carriageway on the A40 between Witney and Eynsham, completion of the eastbound bus lane from Duke’s Cut to Wolvercote, completion of the westbound bus lane, a long-awaited walking and cycle path close to the B4044 between Eynsham and Botley, and a walking and cycle path joining the A40 to the national cycle route on the Oxford Canal. Currently, this link involves a steep bank and a long flight of steps.
Oxford Futures has submitted comments on the proposals using the council’s online feedback questionnaire. You can read our submission here.
However, the feedback system was confined to comments on the specific proposals. There was no opportunity to raise wider concerns and doubts about the implications of the scheme and how it might or might not fit in with planned growth in Oxfordshire and the Ox-MK-Cam development arc.
In our view the main A40 scheme is another example of incrementalism, a piecemeal project being built in the hope that at some time in the future it can be joined up with other bits and pieces into a coherent network. Past experience is not encouraging.
This scheme and the prospective construction of Eynsham Garden Village pre-empt the outcome of the JSSP1. We simply do not know if this is the best place for such a development west of Oxford and close to it. Under current plans it is unlikely to meet the standards of connectivity expected from a satellite ‘garden’ development. We doubt that a sound economic case has been made for the scheme overall, including for the Eynsham P&R.
We believe there is a strong case for any P&R serving West Oxfordshire to be built on the outskirts of Witney, not Eynsham. As towns like Witney have continued to grow, a smaller proportion of residents lives within convenient walking distance of a direct bus service to Oxford. Fewer then have the option of travelling by bus for the whole of their journey.
The A40 strategy should therefore include elements which make it easy for people to access these bus services at the earliest point in their journeys. A P&R probably located near the Shore Green junction, plus several smaller facilities encouraging people to cycle to get to bus stops within the town (as many already do to access train stations elsewhere) would achieve this. It would reduce car mileage and promote healthy travel. At the margin it may also reduce car ownership – hence a virtuous spiral. We believe this would be cheaper than dualling this stretch of road, freeing funds for improvements elsewhere.
If the Eynsham P&R does go ahead as expected, further consideration should be given to an additional P&R at Witney with bus lanes from Witney to Eynsham.
Our other concerns are, in summary:
- The problem of the Wolvercote Roundabout – probably the worst barrier to a connected active travel network north and west of Oxford – is not addressed.
- The impact of the Oxford North development at the eastern end of the scheme does not seem to have been factored in.
- If there are forecasts and modelling of vehicle, cycle and pedestrian movements once the P&R, Garden Village and Oxford North are built they are not included in the consultation material.
- We have concerns about the apparent disregard of County policy on the provision of first-class cycling infrastructure, without any supporting evidence being produced. In particular we call for safety measures to be put in place at the Eynsham roundabout, and for the cycle track on the north side of the A40 to have priority at the minor junctions. There is more detail about this particular issue in the linked document.
- The plans for the Eynsham P&R do not include any cycle storage. This should be remedied and secure storage provided.
We expect Phase 1 of the scheme to go ahead regardless of any reconsideration of the Eynsham P&R and the Phase 2 dualling. We hope the Council will endorse and implement its own policies as they affect the cycle track. Despite our other reservations we generally welcome the creation of the bus lanes east- and west- bound on the A40, the B4044 walking/cycling path and the Duke’s Cut – Oxford Canal cycling network link.
1 The Joint Statutory Spatial Plan being developed by the Oxfordshire Growth Board as a condition of the Housing and Growth Deal funding. It will set out where major developments and the infrastructure needed to support them should be built, with the aim of creating sustainable and attractive communities, encouraging public transport, low motor vehicle usage and active and healthy travel choices.