OxPA meeting
February 28 2012

A City For Pedestrians

Speaker: Gordon Reid, Oxford City Centre Manager

Gordon Reid came to Oxford two years ago having worked in cities such as Edinburgh, Perth and Dundee, to improve the experience of pedestrians in their city centres. Now he is applying his energy and experience to make Oxford more pedestrian-friendly.   

He believes that, regardless of mode of arrival in the city, the centre should be designed for people on foot, not to facilitate passage of through traffic. His radical visions for improving Oxford include pedestrianising much more of Broad Street, possibly moving the bike stands to the north side and having more tables and chairs on the south side. He would also like to close off to traffic half of St Giles, which functions for most of its length as two lanes of traffic although it has 6 lanes of road space. He envisages a “world market” in this space, and indeed there would be room for a market, art installations, a fountain and more.

Gordon told us that of the 16 ‘historic’ towns in England, Oxford has the highest footfall with 700,000 total movements per week past the three measuring points in Oxford (above M&S on Queen St, at STA travel on George Street, and at the Clarendon Centre on Cornmarket). Nine million visitors come to Oxford each year but not enough is done to encourage them to stay and spend money here.

Gordon took away several questions raised by members at the meeting, which included difficulty of crossing at Carfax, and George Street traffic lights not working for walkers. There is also the serious problem of the “Cornmarket Gap” in bus services, which presents huge difficulties for people travelling by bus between East and North Oxford.

Also discussed were the problems of so much traffic moving through Frideswide Square, pavement clutter, the new Wayfinding project of notice boards, and how to educate University Freshers about bicycle etiquette when they come to Oxford. To get action on  pavements blocked by A-boards and other clutter outside shops, phone the Council on 249811. 

Gordon was an entertaining, eloquent, and interesting speaker and we are grateful for his time and interest in OxPA.