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Quickways bring added dangers to East Oxford

QUICKWAYS - ultra-wide cycle lanes on major routes in East Oxford – are presented as a way to make cyclists feel safer and more confident and therefore increase the number of people who cycle. Is this true? Or will the Quickways actually increase dangers for cyclists, pedestrians and (even) for motorists.

Step one: barriers block all motor traffic from passing through East Oxford side streets

This sends all of this traffic onto Cowley Road, Iffley Road and St Clement’s and a huge amount of extra traffic around the Plain, accepted as one of the most dangerous places in the city for cyclists.

Step two: the council creates Quickways on the same roads they have just filled with traffic.

This forces cars, vans, buses and lorries to compete for space on narrower roads, divided from cyclists by nothing more substantial than a white line or other marking.

Step three: Quickways encourage speed

According to the Country Council’s own website Quickways encourage speed; not safe cycling. They will have a “design speed of up to 20mph … to provide a direct faster route into the centre and are generally used by more confident cyclists.”

Less confident cyclists are recommended to use “Quietways” which are simply side roads which do not go to the city centre and have a signpost but no safety measures. Side streets will still experience traffic from people who live there plus all the vans and lorries doing deliveries etc. many of whom will be stressed because of the convoluted routes and difficult turns they have to make.

One of the (loaded) County Council consultation questions was about the safety of an 8 year old on a bike. No parent could feel that an 8-year-old child would be safe cycling through these streets alone before or after an LTN. The narrow streets are not easy either for nervous cyclists since bicycles and cars have to navigate their way around each other when they meet.

On Quickways a nervous cyclist will share the lane with cyclists going at top speed, electric scooters and electric bicycles, alongside stressed drivers, who may be forced into the cycle lane to avoid head on collisions. There will be no extra crossing points for pedestrians and (so far at least) no safer path through The Plain. There will probably be vans and lorries unloading in the lane because – where else can they go?

So what do we need?

Most cycling safety experts recommend physically separating cyclists and cars by something more substantial than a painted line. But the Quickways –as with so many of Oxford’s traffic plans – appear to have been designed mainly for lycra clad cyclists – certainly not for nervous cyclists, pedestrians or drivers.

20mph speed limits and advanced signals for cyclists at traffic lights are good steps that help all cyclists, if they are enforced. But the City and County Councils have lost their way on both traffic and cycling policy in East Oxford. They ignore the views of most cyclists as well as residents and have allowed their policies to be driven by external pressure groups.

John Skinner will argue for enforcement of speed limits, and a rethink to prioritise safer designs for cycle routes, not those that promote speed.


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