Present: Cllr Roz Smith, Owen South, Shaun Hatton, Cllr R Wilkinson (note taker)
Cllr Roz Smith introduced Owen South and emphasised that this was an informal meeting about the county council’s London Road bus lane project.
It was agreed, in response to a question, that the County Council would involve businesses operating in the London Road in its formal consultation (likely to be next spring).
Owen South explained the background to this project. A funding bid to reduce traffic and improve alternatives to the car in the Thornhill-Headington area had been successful, and included passenger transport infrastructure on the ground as well as new bus services and also some help for cyclists.
The Thornhill Park and Ride site has been getting full before 9am on weekdays, and will be expanded. A charge of £3 has just been introduced for those who park for longer than 11 hours in order to free up more spaces for those using the site to access Oxford city centre and Headington.
Therefore a decision was made that the fee should be payable by those commuting to London and the airports, hence the tariff for longer stay.
This expansion will enable the introduction of new bus services to the hospitals – there are currently no services operating throughout the whole day so this will be an improvement
Bike links to the hospitals from the Park and Ride will be established, and this will help NHS staff. There will be the facility to take a bike from one venue to the other, similar to the bike scheme operating in London.
A number of options have been explored, just to see whether they are workable and necessary. This has meant that parts of London Road had been dug up to find out the precise location of utilities.
One option was to extend the inbound bus lane in London Road from Gladstone Road back to the Green Road roundabout outbound (to London).
Another option had been to extend in the outbound bus lane back as far as the Co-op from the Green Road roundabout.
For these options, there would be a need to eat into the footway on both sides of the London Road all the way from the park back to the roundabout. This would impact on trees and pavement space, and planners had considered the potential number of tree losses and the costs of diverting utilities. They had also considered the impact on cyclists and pedestrians using the footway.
Another problem area with regard to traffic flow was the tailbacks from traffic entering London Road from the Green Road roundabout and getting stuck behind buses at the first inbound bus stop. The County Council wants to improve reliability of buses and improve bus priority in this scheme. Options to deal with these could include extra bus lanes inbound from the Green Road roundabout, outbound from Bury Knowle Park, and an extension of the bus lane from Thornhill up to and around the roundabout.
It was decided that work to extend a bus lane around the Green Road roundabout should be put on hold for the moment while Barton West plans are being finalised as the extra traffic from there will have an impact.
Oxfordshire County Council has now ruled out the extension of the outbound bus lane from Gladstone Road to Headington shops. This option would be expensive, it would reduce the footway near shops and businesses, and trees would be lost. The time savings to buses would also be limited in any case.
It has also ruled out the option to extend the bus lane in London Road from Gladstone Road to the Green Road roundabout outbound (to London) for similar reasons. Journey times had been looked at, and delays to outbound traffic on that stretch are not as bad as on the inbound section, so this option may not be good value for money.
The most sensible and feasible option so far identified is to extend the inbound bus lane from Green Road roundabout to Gladstone Road. This will allow buses and cars and bikes to pass buses parked at the first inbound bus stop which may be relocated.
In order to provide an inbound bus lane starting from outside the back of Coleman Hill flats along to Gladstone Rd would require the removal of approximately 1.5 metres of footway from each side of London Road
Questions and comments from the public
We are concerned about cyclists. Is there a cycle track inbound from the roundabout? Or will they have to cycle on the London Road again?
While the narrowed footway on the north side would no longer be suitable for shared use by cyclists, they would be able to use the bus lanes or could use less direct but quieter parallel routes.
How many trees will be lost?
Two trees may be lost
Will cyclists be able to use bus lanes?
Cycling in bus lanes is not ideal for all cyclists although many of the more confident cyclists are happy do this.
Why mess with it at all apart from a bus lay-by if that’s causing all the problems?
Pedestrians need to be prioritised
Why are we trying to make it easier for buses to kill people? London buses speed down London Road at 3 am
Why can’t we stop London buses coming through Headington?
There is conflict in Oxford in that it’s not possible to cater fully for all means of transport
Bus companies can choose what routes inbound they take
We should leave it as it is but put in cycle lanes on London Road
Owen’s remit is to improve bus priority with this scheme
There will be a loss to pedestrians and cyclists
Planners are trying within this scheme to minimise harm to cyclists and pedestrians. It is acknowledged that shared use doesn’t work everywhere
The County Council just views London Road as a corridor through to the City. I’m glad it’s not taking the bus lane outbound all the way down because that option isn’t needed
We need better quality of road than the rest of London Road?
There’s room for a marked out cycle path on the footway where it’s widest
Owen will look at putting white lines there to make it more formal. He will make a site visit and consider this. Shared footway is considered to be a second best measure
The County Council’s got its balance of priorities wrong, it should be doing more for cyclists and not for buses
What is happening to the cars? Getting out of side roads into main roads is awful because you can’t see round the buses
Motorists wouldn’t lose out; there will still be two traffic lanes
The city is looking at improvements to cycle routes and there will be Boris bikes, why is there no joined up thinking re help for cyclists, especially as the Barton development is going ahead?
Bikes are a wider project and the County and the City are two of the stakeholders working on improvements across the City. But this specific scheme focuses on buses
I’m worried about accidents and safety with the extra lanes. Vans are parked on pavements already so this will make things worse.
Why can’t London buses terminate at Thornhill Park and Ride?
The County Council has no power to specify bus routes; successive Governments have taken the view that this should be the responsibility of the bus companies (following deregulation in 1985).
So you’re spending money helping bus companies over whom you have no control but not on the pedestrians and cyclists who pay council tax for things you do control?
Lyndworth Close and Northfield Rd are accident hotspots
Can you tell us more about the new bus routes?
These will operate from Thornhill to the hospitals and possibly from Water Eaton to the hospitals. Bus companies have been asked for the best possible services they can provide for a specified amount of money
London buses speed down London Road in the early hours of the morning. National Express buses come through Oxford too (from Stansted)
This should be taken up with the police
Are the plans online?
No, they have not reached a stage when formal consultation can begin
Is this phase 3 of the improvement of the London Road?
In a sense, yes. The government funding was an opportunity to go ahead with phase 3
OCC is obsessed with buses getting people into the City, the priority for London Rd should be to maintain and improve the environment for people living there
Improving buses and taking away footpaths is making it easier for buses and cars to speed and cause accidents
Railings could be put in at junctions to minimise accidents, like in London
Thank you for holding this meeting here, it’s much better to have local meetings in the area than going to County Hall
The County Council’s priority should be for people who live in Headington for all of the time
Barton Rd is an accident black spot.
Markings for cyclists are poor at the Green Road roundabout
Children have to cycle on pavements to be safe
Motorists mount the pavement at Gladstone Rd
We have children, elderly parents, we live here, we don’t want to ease traffic so there is a steady flow the whole time. Put the safety of the residents first!
Education is needed – everyone needs to abide by the Highway Code, there is danger caused to cyclists on the LH side when non-signalling cars turn left
How will the proposal affect the backlog of traffic from London Rd back to the Wheatley turn?
That will need to be addressed with another scheme when there is more money available
Why not have a congestion charge?
Cllrs Roz Smith and Ruth Wilkinson noted this suggestion as a number in favour of this
Have you thought about air pollution on London Road? It’s 25% higher than average at Windmill Rd and the Green Road roundabout
This scheme shouldn’t make air quality any worse.
I’m worried about St Andrews School
Lots of traffic only travels down London Road as far as the junction with Headley Way to access the hospitals
This is why the hospitals, working in partnership with the county council, are restricting staff parking and encouraging the use of other modes – this project and other linked projects are intended to support this and help to reduce such car commuting.
Why don’t the County Council build a multi-storey car park at Thornhill Park and Ride?
South Oxfordshire won’t allow it as it’s on the Green Belt.
Why not build one underground, then?
Because it would cost far, far more money than we have
The road surface is terrible outside Barclays Bank and outside the park, when will it be sorted out?
Shaun Hatton looks after maintaining road infrastructure after new schemes are implemented. If you wish to report a problem, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0845 310 1111
How do we know the road surface will be done properly? Outside Barclays Bank – drains are on top of the road surface, no wonder the surface water doesn’t drain into them!
Can we talk to the bodgers not the people who maintain the roads after the schemes get put in?
It’s best to talk to the project team at the time the scheme is being installed
Where the road’s been dug up by utilities, it hasn’t been put back as it was before and some holes were left a foot deep
A County officer has responsibility for liaising with utilities companies and ensuring they make good any damage or shoddy work
Children trying to cross from the Park to St Andrew’s School have to walk through large puddles and get drenched
There won’t be wide enough pavement to the shops
Nothing will be cut away from footways between Gladstone Road and the shops as the benefit would not outweigh the costs
Can we have a moveable “tidal flow” bus lane at peak and off peak times?
Why wasn’t a bus lane put in at Dorset House
The planning application and build came in after that phase of the London Road had been completed
Some discussion was held about whether there should be a show of hands to see who supported the scheme as outlined and who did not, as it was noted that many people were present but had not spoken. Mixed response, but a suggestion was made that Owen should report back that there were still some areas about which people have concerns.
A resident thanked Cllr Roz Smith for organising the meeting, and the County officers for attending
Meeting ended at 20.15