Uncontrolled crossing at Osler Road junction – Q&As

Here are the answers by councillors to questions raised at yesterday evening’s Headington Ward Focus Meeting about the new crossing.

Osler Road uncontrolled crossing

Why is it needed?

High number of minor safety incidents

Why introduce it at such short notice?

Funding became available. It was considered best value to the taxpayers and provide least disturbance to residents during the Easter school holiday period

Why no consultation?

There were plans to put in a toucan crossing here from the outset, and many responses were received for this from the community, but it fell out of scope when money got tight. It went back in as priority once funding was available due to safety concerns

Who comes up with options for road crossings?

Amec Foster Wheeler provide alternative options and explain which ones are most feasible in their view in response to a spec from the County Council.

What spec was given?

A broad one. Controlled or uncontrolled crossings, either directly across the road or staggered.

Does the County Council have to go with the Amec recommendation?

No. This plan was subject to quite a lot of debate and challenges were made by the safety team in order to find the best option

Was money a factor in coming up with an uncontrolled, rather than a controlled, crossing?

Absolutely not. Safety concerns were prioritized. It wasn’t possible for a straight controlled crossing to be put in without a second set of lights, and the synching of these and delays to public transport made this prohibitive. A staggered crossing would result in further wait for pedestrians, and the size of the island would block movement into Osler Road

  • Original provision showed a toucan crossing incorporating the bus gate, after developing the design further it was determined that a controlled crossing could not be delivered safely.
  • Alternatives were considered, including a zebra, which had similar safety concerns.
  • The best alternative was to provide an uncontrolled crossing, incorporating a build out to shorten the crossing and providing a refuge in the middle of the road
  • There remains a broad local support for pedestrian provision in this location but bus companies are understandably concerned that the changes may affect the level of bus priority they receive with this latest proposal and the County is engaging with them to mitigate their concerns. There may be an additional delay of 28-40 seconds on the way into Headington from the City Centre but this is considered worthwhile because of the safety concerns at that location

Will the crossing be used by cyclists as well as pedestrians?

It is first and foremost a pedestrian crossing. It would technically be possible for cyclists to dismount, use the crossing and then resume cycling in the cycle lane opposite.

Who has been informed?

Letters to The Occupier at addresses in London Road between the garage and the controlled pedestrian crossing/lights have been sent by a distribution company.

Councillors are concerned about this as not all tenants in flats above shops may see the notification. We are also concerned that people in Osler Road, New High Street and Lime Walk have not been circulated, and we shall contact these residents ourselves.

Have the bus companies been informed?

Yes. See answer above

Will this affect community projects?

It will not affect the greening project, the Headington Market, or the trees with the Christmas lights

Will any trees have to be taken out?

No.

When will it happen?

It’s already started. Here is the approximate timetable, subject to weather conditions:

w/b 24 March             Footway works

w/b 3 April                  2-way lights (for 2 weeks). Works area will take up half the road

w/b 17 April                Narrow lane running (for 2 weeks)

Where will construction space be?

3 parking bays have been suspended in Lime Walk near KwikFit

Will there be works at weekends?

Yes on Saturday mornings.

For more information, please see the Access to Headington website

Your councillors called for the introduction of a safer pedestrian crossing at this point in the initial consultation, but were hoping that a controlled crossing option could be found. Traffic will be slow in the centre of Headington during April. We are concerned that there has been insufficient notice given to those affected although we understand the reasoning given, and we feel that residents in adjoining roads should have been leafleted. However we welcome much-needed safety improvements for pedestrians at such a busy location.

County statement on pavement widening in the High

Thanks to a colleague for forwarding this response to an FOI request.

Thank you for your request of 29 October 2017 in which you asked for the following information:

1. The cost to the taxpayer of the recent pavement widening in Oxford High Street, including officer time planning the change, contracting with suppliers and all other associated costs.

2. What assessment of the impact on traffic flows was done.

3. What assessment of the impact on cyclist safety was done.

The footway widening to which you are referring was undertaken as part of a series of transport improvement measures in relation to the proposed prohibition of vehicles using Queen Street and the knock-on effect that would have on the surrounding city road network, including bus routeing. Due to the cost savings from undertaking these works as part of a wider piece of work, the apportionment of costs is hard to quantify in detail however the works were approximately £40k.

This widening was also implemented with pedestrians in mind to improve their and bus passenger experience in an area where the narrow footway was a source of complaints. This widening enables the provision of bus shelters to further improve infrastructure for bus passengers.

Due to the small size and nature of the works it is not necessary to undertake an informed assessment of the impact on traffic flows, beyond the acknowledgement that there is likely to be a small detrimental impact which is considered acceptable in the context of the wider benefits to other user groups.

The implemented works are now being closely monitored which has, only last week, resulted in the relocation of bus stop L2 to alleviate the blockages and delays that had materialised since its introduction. Further minor changes to traffic regulation orders in the vicinity may be forthcoming in the future if considered necessary.

Cyclists, as well as other vulnerable road users’ safety are a priority for the county council and the design was informed using national standards and guidance.

Access to Headington: conflict of use of space at bus stops

Bus stops and crossings in new highways works are always tricky in terms of off-carriageway infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists as they are inherently points where desire line cross.

We asked the County Council about the possible conflict between bus passengers alighting and passing cyclists near the bus stops in the Slade. Here is the response we received:

The areas outside the bus stops and crossings are shared space rather than cycle lane/pedestrian lane so both users share priority.  The appropriate signage and markings will be in place in order to remind users of the change in priority.

Industrial action update from Oxford Bus

We have just received the following statement from the managing director of Oxford Bus Company.

I am writing to update you on the dispute with Unite the Union over Christmas and New Year working and pay negotiations that led to the strike action taken on 2 and 6 March 2017.

Constructive talks have been taking place since the second day of action and I am pleased to advise you that the company has made an offer to Unite that the majority of its members have accepted. This means that the dispute has now been resolved and there should be no further disruption to our services as a result of strike action.

This has been a very difficult time for the company and I very much regret any inconvenience this dispute has caused. I would also like to thank you for your patience whilst a resolution was sought. We can now get back to working together to deliver the high quality bus services that we all strive to achieve on a daily basis.

Planned strike action by bus drivers on Thursday

Oxford Bus Company has posted up a list of services that may be affected:

We will work as hard as we can to provide the following services on the planned strike days:

  • the airline Heathrow and Gatwick
  • cityX3
  • city13
  • city4/4A/4B/4C
  • city6
  • city35
  • park&ride300
  • park&ride400
  • BROOKESbusU1
  • BROOKESbusU5
  • School services city3B, city6C and city35A

It is unlikely that the following services will run and so we recommend you make alternative arrangements:

  • city2/2A/2B/2C/2D
  • city3/3A
  • city4B (between Oxford City and Abingdon)
  • city5
  • city8/9
  • cityX13
  • the airline Birmingham
  • X90 London
  • BROOKESbusU4
  • park & ride 500

For further information including whether or not tickets are transferrable to services run by other operators, please visit the Oxford Bus website at:

https://www.oxfordbus.co.uk/strike/

 

Science Transit Bus route update

Following intervention from Headington Lib Dem councillors, the following communication has been received from the University.

After meeting the County and discussion with UNO Bus Ltd we have agreed to maintain the service on the current routing for the time being and not to implement a diversion.

We will continue to review the situation and if it does transpire that congestion causes problems with reliability we will again re-examine.  However, a diversion by Lime Walk is clearly in no-one’s interest whilst the Heat Pipe works are in operation.

I will contact you in advance if this situation changes and would be happy to meet in due course

Ruth says,

This is a welcome move by the University at a time when many residents are beset by roadworks, parking displacement, and temporary road closures.

Change of route for Science Transit shuttle bus during Roosevelt Drive works

We have been copied into the following message to Highfield Residents’ Association by the University of Oxford. We are very concerned about this proposed change of route which will further inconvenience Highfield residents at what will already be a highly stressful time, and set a precedent for minibuses through residential roads in the area.

Since 18 July 2016 the Science Transit Shuttle has provided a rapid and reliable connection every weekday between the Science Area and Old Road Campus for the University’s researchers, technicians and post-graduates.  The ST2 Old Road Campus route was implemented by the University in response to the inadequate public transport connections and to reduce the number of taxi and private car trips between these key sites for research and innovation in the City.  Due to the traffic congestion associated with Oxfordshire County Council’s Access to Headington works at the Old Road/Roosevelt Drive junction, the ST2 service has been experiencing serious delays, adversely impacting on the reliability and journey times.  Consequently the ST2 service will be diverted from the current route on Old Road/Warneford Lane and instead circulate via Lime Walk / Stapleton Road / London Road from 31st October 2016 until such time as reliable journey times return on Old Road/ Warneford Lane.  The private service is using 16 seater minibuses running every 30 minutes between 7am and 7pm.  Queries about the service should be directed to info@sciencetransitshuttle.co.uk.

We have contacted the University expressing our concerns. More to follow.

Action on language school students

We received a complaint that huge numbers of language school students with red bags were waiting for buses at the Latimer Road stop and have investigated further. The school in question appears to be Academia Britannica and we have contacted the London-based organisation Find Digs to express our concern.

They reply:

These students did indeed study with us. 

These groups are part of an Italian Government sponsored scheme to study and visit the UK, we at Find Digs provide the college and accommodation for them. We further aid them with operations organising such things as excursions, airport transfers and buying travel cards for them so as to make their entry on to the bus as smooth as possible. However the groups with their own leaders take the students on afternoon excursions. 

In all honesty this is the first year we have had these groups in Oxford as they normally stay in London. Looking at the photo you have sent I can see that the group is too large for bus stop and is something we need to address. 

Our centre has closed now but we will endeavour to action this for next summer. The most obvious thing I can suggest at this stage is that we will split the group into smaller groups and they will stagger their departure time into Oxford which should minimise the impact on local residents. 

If you wish to discuss this further then please do not hesitate to contact me.

We have given them advice on how to join the Language Schools Forum which can assist such organisations with advice on how to buy pre-paid tickets, where to get maps of Oxford, how to stay safe in Oxford etc. We shall monitor the situation again next year as it appears they will be using Dorset House again.

Enquiries about language school students

We’ve followed up concerns about impact on bus travel relating to language school students. Here is a response from the EF International Language Centre. We are contacting EF Language Travel too. The complaints were around packing of bus stops and of language students not having bus passes so slowing boarding time for residents.

Thanks for sharing concerns of local residents about disruption caused by language students.  We appreciate that this can be a challenge for people going about their daily lives during the busy summer months and do work with the local bus companies to do what we can do ease the situation.  I am sorry that some of your constituents are unhappy but would like to stress that whilst at times something of a nuisance, language students are generally well-behaved and do not present a threat.  

I am the Director for EF International Language Centre, which is a school for older students running courses year round.  Our students are aged 16+ and generally travel as individuals.  We do not have a lot of large group activities or movement around the city, and looking at the details of times and locations from the complaints you have received, these are certainly not activities which we have been involved with.

However our sister company, EF Language Travel, does have more group focused operations in Oxford through the summer vacation period, in particular running courses at Oxford Brookes campus in Gipsy Lane.  I will forward the complaints you have received to my counterparts there and ask them to consider ways which issues can be avoided as much as possible.

We are renting a small number of rooms at Dorset House, as noted in one email.  Our students arrived there last Sunday 10th July and will be there just for a few weeks.  Whilst there are restrictions on use during term time, student accommodation like Dorset House is available to any educational organisation during university vacations.  I believe there are a number of schools renting accommodation there but I will also pass these concerns to the manager in order that she can discuss with all schools.