Traffic Fears When Lockdown is Relaxed

A  group of district councillors is urging Oxfordshire County Council to take steps to reduce the risk of traffic volumes increasing, if and when the Coronavirus lockdown measures are eased.

Four councillors known as “Walking and Cycle Champions”, including Green councillor for the Wittenhams, Sam Casey-Rerhaye, have written to the county council calling on the authority to take a proactive review of measures following a dramatic drop in traffic levels during the lockdown.

The councillors write: “Once residents begin to return to more normal activities, they will of course need to avoid close contact with others on public transport or in the street.  It is highly likely that unless changes to the amount of space on the highway allocated for pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles are changed, more people will turn to using their own car, and traffic levels will increase to more than that of pre-lockdown levels.”

“As Walking and Cycling Champions, we have noted other areas such as Lambeth and Hackney, as well as international cities such as Milan, are rapidly developing temporary measures to widen areas for people walking or cycling, and narrowing the space allocated for motorised traffic, or banning motorised vehicles altogether on some roads.”

The letter goes on to say that these changes serve to address the modifications in behaviour needed as society gradually returns to a more ‘normal’ time.  The councillors see risks in these modifications that in turn could lead to different threats to health – from collisions as motorised traffic increases, from increased pollution and from an increase in inactivity.

“To ensure people can avoid risking social contact and to prevent an undesirable increase in private car use, we believe now is the time to organise temporary changes in Oxford and the towns across Oxfordshire to increase space for walking and cycling in order that people feel confident enough use these forms of transport as an alternative to car use or public transport.”

“We think there is a narrow window of opportunity to have both positive immediate effects in relation to coming out of lockdown and longer-term effects on reducing traffic levels which could lead to better overall health to our population.  It would be fantastic if Oxfordshire could be part of this positive change.”

The other three signatories to the letter are Vale of White Horse district councillor Eric de la Harpe,  Dan Levy of West Oxfordshire District Council and Louise Upton from Oxford City Council.

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6 Responses to Traffic Fears When Lockdown is Relaxed

  1. Debra Steele says:

    We have needed a path/cycle track between Long Wittenham & Clifton Hampden for years & years. It is very dangerous to cycle and even worse to walk. Its about time the Councillors pulled their fingers out and we get one, to make it safer for all.

    • Donna King says:

      well said Deb ,what happened to the oneway stretch at clifton Hampden ,when it was closed off and cleared to widen the road then left to become overgrown again!!I would be more than happy to cycle to work but between wittenham and clifton is a dangerous stretch of road ,and should have speed limit lowered too 60 is far too fast …

  2. Ruth McCreight says:

    Why not improve public transport and support small companies providing transport when it is needed.
    I wonder how many of commuters are able to cycle and particularly in our winter weather.

    • Chris Waites says:

      Exactly. Have made the point to the county council before that road between Long Wittenham and Clifton Hampden is the “missing link” for commuters between Didcot and Culham and beyond – 60mph and no pedestrian/cycle provision at all. The county council need to pull their fingers out, otherwise with less people using trains traffic will quickly become intolerable.

  3. Chris Waites says:

    I have already contacted County Highways about this and been told in no uncertain terms that no measures will be taken that reduce capacity for cars. What they clearly don’t get is many people will no longer be able to car share or use public transport. Without increasing cycling and walking then congestion will be incredible for those that have no choice but to drive for whatever reason.

    So drivers need to be pushing for better footpaths and cycle lanes vociferously too. Plenty of people commuting to Culham are young, fit and could be on a bike if a safe route was provided. Otherwise especially if schools return expect traffic to be queuing back into the village every morning as commuters try and avoid queues on the A34.

    We need to act now, whilst roads are still quieter and changes can be made. Hopefully our councillors championing this will prevent the council from dragging their feet.

  4. D Wright says:

    For over 40 years John and I have always tried to cycle from Long Wittenham to Clifton Hampden but as it gets progressively more dangerous we are becoming more reluctant to do it. We do still cycle to Didcot along the cycle path but it is in serious need of repair, and has been for some time. It would be super if these issues were attended to.

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