Oxfordshire County Council’s cycling champion has described the new shared space proposals for Broad Street, Oxford, as “brave and symbolic” while arguing they do not go far enough.
Councillor Dan Levy (Lib Dem, Eynsham) declared himself “very supportive” of measures that are to be extended the length of Broad Street, believing it will make the area “much more attractive for those on bikes and walking”.
The initially experimental measures will see the county council remove pay and display parking, relocate motorcycle, loading and disabled parking bays and introduce a 24-hour ban on loading in most areas.
The council’s report says its aims are to “encourage people to use the space as a place to stay and meet throughout the year rather than just a place to travel through” while offering “increased space for events to take place, support local businesses through encouraging increased footfall and time spent in Broad Street and improved air quality through reducing vehicle movements”.
Preliminary designs include movable planters and seating, lawn space with games and activities, outdoor dining for existing businesses, additional cycle parking and space for small-scale events and art displays.
However, one of Councillor Levy’s biggest worries is the retained presence of buses, as the measure maintain bus access to the pedestrianised Broad Street.
He said: “Do we really need bus access and bus turning in Broad Street? I know the bus company involved was very reluctant to give up access, but in particular, having the tourist buses there does seem unnecessary and prevents the full enjoyment of the street by people on foot.
“Primarily because the buses are there, some aspects are as a road, rather than a genuinely shared space. Perhaps in the future, we could explore alternative bus locations and routes so we can properly make Broad Street broadly pedestrianised and an even better place.
“That said, I am supportive of these proposals. They are a definite step forward, a brave and symbolic move that is very much a part of this Fair Deal Alliance’s commitment to making the county greener, more active and more beautiful.”
The changes are being implemented under an experimental traffic regulation order (ETRO) which can last for up to 18 months. The council’s report detailed the timeline.
It read: “With respect to ongoing engagement, stakeholders will continue to be informed of the scheme development up to the point of construction.
“Following scheme implementation, stakeholders and members of the public will then have a minimum six-month statutory consultation period to formally comment or object to the experiment.
“Within this six-month statutory consultation period, the scheme can be modified to take account of any issues or alterations required.
“Within the 18-month period of the ETRO, a decision on whether to make the scheme permanent will be taken following responses to the statutory consultation period, funding available and monitoring and evaluation of the scheme.”