OxPA Annual General Meeting
October 27 2009

A More Walkable Oxford?

Speaker: Steve Howell, Head of Transport, Oxfordshire County Council.

Referring to OxPA’s publication “A More Walkable Oxford” as “a great piece of work”, Steve gave a frank and sympathetic response to the full range of issues requiring attention if Oxford is to become a better place for people on foot. The problems of divided responsibility between the two Councils, as well as financial cutbacks, clearly affect the speed of progress, but we were reassured that many of our aims are shared by the person responsible for transport policy. Several changes afoot will soon usher in improvements: agreement with the bus companies to reduce buses in the High, and a new contract with a new consultant, replacing Jacobs, will release more money for the actual works. Public Realm improvements following on from Queen Street will next tackle Frideswide Square (rather than George Street). It is hoped that the appointment of a new City Manager, to bridge City and County roles, will ensure a better use of public space, especially Broad Street, long-overdue for improvements worthy of its beauty and international importance.

Questions from the audience included: the merits of zebra vs. puffin crossings (the former between half and a third the cost of the latter); the urgent need to reduce pollution from vehicles in the city centre; desirability of including taxis as well as buses in Low Emission Zone; possibility of crossing lights to rest on green for pedestrians rather than green for vehicles; extension of 20mph to include more major roads (it was reassuring that Steve Howell regards the lower limit as permanent); need to encourage more car clubs to reduce parking chaos; desirability of more trees in the city centre. It is encouraging that the new 20mph limits seem to be leading to better compliance with 30mph limits.