Bold plans for transport as Oxfordshire prepares for the “new normal”

Bold transport proposals are in the pipeline for Oxfordshire as the county joins the nation in gradually emerging from lockdown and preparing for the “new normal.”

Innovative ideas have been identified by county councillors all over Oxfordshire in response to the Government’s national £250 million cash fund to implement changes to roads and transport networks.

There’s set to be a focus on encouraging residents to walk and cycle, with the county council linking up with district councils, Oxford City Council and other partners on the work. In terms of longer-term recovery, the use of public transport will be encouraged as part of the county-wide strategy.

Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment Cllr Yvonne Constance and Cycling Champion Cllr Suzanne Bartington recently asked all 63 county councillors covering every part of the county for their ideas on what should be done.

Enthusiastic responses were received as the council seeks to make sure that every town and village will benefit from how the funds are invested.

Of the responses submitted, there is particularly clear support for measures including:

  • Wider roll-out of 20 mph speed zones where supported by residents
  • The introduction of school streets to restrict motor vehicles around schools at certain times of day
  • Improved cycling infrastructure such as more cycle-only lanes in every town
  • Additional cycle facilities such as more secure cycle racks at rural bus stops

Oxford is already well positioned to benefit from the work done as a result of its Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP), which has identified steps to maximise the uptake in cycling and walking across the city.

Cllr Yvonne Constance said: “The immense challenges of coronavirus have disrupted our transport network. However there are now opportunities to rethink the way we travel and a chance to make strides towards sustainable and zero emission transport. There’s a real chance to do things differently, helping more people to walk, cycle and travel in sustainable ways.

“By working with councillors across the county on adapting our transport infrastructure and options we can alter the way people think about travelling. This could all lead to much-needed improvements in air quality as well as supporting a sustainable recovery from the pandemic.”

“The county council will work to ensure people have access to the facilities and information they will need to take advantage of the adapted infrastructure that is planned.”

Specific steps will be announced shortly - some will be implemented in June, with further changes to be made between July and September.

The precise allocation and terms for the county of the £250 million government fund is still to be confirmed. The county council will work with the district and city councils to use this funding as widely as possible to address the active transport measures under consideration for the benefit of residents.