Oxfordshire County Council was cunning to launch its latest road scheme for Headington in the middle of summer just when most people are busy outside or away on holiday so that they wouldn't be able to take part in the consultation. Builders of unpopular or illegal development schemes have long used the same tactics.
On the face of it, the scheme is benign in seeking to provide a cycle lane in Windmill Road, but they are only doing so by dint of banning parking. The vast majority of the residents have nowhere else to park. Most of the houses were built without garages and the owners will have to pave over their gardens if they want to keep a car. And the narrowing of the pavements planned will be an inconvenience.The position of the HS3 bus stop on the Eastern side of the road near Linden Court has always been inconvenient. Those waiting for the number 10 bus need to have very small feet.
The result of a no-parking policy will be, as their own plan, admits, to "improve traffic flow". But faster traffic will not make the road safer either for cyclists or for anybody else. At present, the narrowness of Windmill Road slows traffic down, and this makes it safer for cyclists, pedestrians and handicapped people. Wherever you get speedy traffic flow, somebody is bound to start demanding the installation of bloody awful speed bumps and a plethora of speed limit signs, "beware of school-children" signs etc etc
The fact is that Windmill Road was just not designed as a major arterial road, and should not be designated as such on maps, There is room on other adjacent roads, such as Old Road, for cycle lanes, but only if green verges are removed, which is specifically against the Neighbourhood Plan. This is a tough decision, but in the last resort, I think the safety of cyclists along that major route ought to be the higher priority than grass verges.
Of course a parking ban along any road is a nice little earner when it comes to handing out fines. Could that have crossed their minds?
The County has much further-reaching schemes for banning all petrol-fuelled vehicles from the entire city in the near future, so this is only a marginal note in the great Roads saga.
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