Woodstock Road consultation response

This is the text of the Society’s response to Oxfordshire County Council’s consultation on changes to the traffic management and layout of the Woodstock Road.

Woodstock Road, Oxford

We broadly endorse the proposals to prioritise pedestrian and cycle traffic in line with central and local government policy. However, it is unfortunate that implementation seems to be intended in isolation of other measures, including those aimed at reducing car numbers to safeguard traffic flow. Our recommendations are as follows:

  • To take the proposals for re-configuration of Woodstock Road forward, consideration is needed of the effects on traffic (volume, modes, purpose, timing) of development proposals ‘upstream’ at Witney, Eynsham, Woodstock, Begbrooke, Yarnton and Oxford North. People wanting to travel to and from these Oxford ‘city-region’ locations should be encouraged to cycle, or to use public transport. The Woodstock Road proposals would greatly facilitate cycling, but might increase bus journey times if implemented without a reduction in car traffic. Further traffic modelling may clarify this issue.
  • Links with the preparation of demand management measures which have been / will be proposed elsewhere need to be established or demonstrated (such as ‘Connecting Oxford’ and the possible introduction of a workplace parking levy). Work on these radial routes (Woodstock Road and Banbury Road) would ideally be synchronised and coordinated with ‘Connecting Oxford’.
  • Use should be made of traffic modelling, considering all the factors which are likely to affect or be affected by changes in travel behaviour. Understanding the characteristics of traffic – volume, timing, modes, origin, destination and purpose – and prediction of future characteristics are essential to the design of corridor improvements.
  • As Woodstock and Banbury Roads run parallel and quite close together, a re-run of the consultation exercise for Woodstock Road is recommended, simultaneously with that of Banbury Road (including the implications for the ‘ladder’ roads), in order that an optimum solution across both corridors could be considered. This re-run might also include evidence of links with the introduction of demand-management measures.

We would very much like to see a strategic approach to the design of these principal radial routes for the future. Investing in ad hoc road investment schemes in Oxford which are not linked into measures addressing Oxford and Oxford’s city-region strategic development and transport challenges (the ultimate purpose of this funding) is bad planning. Each investment scheme should aim incrementally to contribute to the improvement of the whole system. The current proposals are not complete and do not do this yet.

The main response of the Oxford Civic Society is therefore to suggest that the Woodstock Road proposals are welcome, but perhaps premature. Is the timing of this consultation based on the timing of available funding? Although we do not want to delay implementation, in this case it might be better to seek an extension of the funding window to enable synchronisation and coordination of the Woodstock and Banbury Road proposals with the resolution of wider transport strategies, many of which are imminent in a relatively short 2-to-3-year time frame.