Local Transport Plan – Final Draft

January 5th, 2011 by Kevin Leave a reply »

The final stage of consultation on the Local Transport Plan closes on Sunday.

From the point of view of sustainable, active travel it’s looking pretty good; the priority of cycling and walking has been ranked as High, High, High and High for Oxford, large towns, small towns and rural Oxfordshire – the only objective to do so.

It’s closely followed by reducing congestion, improving public transport, and maintaining footways, cycleways and local roads. This is what focus groups across the county consider to be the priorities in a Local Transport Plan.

Here are all the documents on the OCC website

You may wish to limit yourself to just this summary.

In its entirety the plan is huge, and there are plenty of good words in the full sections (see Chapter 12 Cycling and Walking), but my initial impression is that the summary doesn’t adequately convey the emphasis on sustainable, active travel. See what you think – I’d be interested in your comments.

The major obstacle in actually realising a sustainable transport network is balancing the mutually exclusive goals of economic growth with the priority of people over vehicles. In general, separating people and vehicles where speeds and volumes are high, and restricting the speed and volume of motorised traffic where people live, work and play is the key.

Some of the questions I’m asking as I read it are:

  • Is speed reduction in towns and villages without costly physical calming covered in this plan? See 20s Plenty For Us.
  • Is the need for pleasant, adequate width cycle and walking routes alongside higher speed roads covered, as well as crossings? Try cycling from Bladon to Long Hanborough Station!
  • Is public transport adequately prioritised outside of Oxford City? The S1 and S2 suffer the same congestion as everything else on the route to Oxford.

As ever, please make your views known, however concise, and respond to the consultation by this Sunday 9th January, either online, or by post.

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1 comment

  1. Kevin says:

    Our response…

    Priority of Objectives

    Could more be made of the revealing work undertaken with the focus groups in the initial stages? The priority given to Cycling and Walking, Public Transport and Reducing Congestion should be more obvious in the plan, by for example moving those elements to the front of the document.

    We are surprised that the priority of the objectives is not mentioned in the summary, and again the order of them in the summary gives no clue to the relative weight given to them by the public.

    We are pleased to see that the order of the objectives is correct in the Carterton Area Strategy. We ask that the order given to the elements in the Witney Area Strategy be changed to reflect the priority.

    Speed

    We are pleased to see ‘promoting safer speeds’ in the section Road Safety and the discussion of the benefits of lower vehicle speeds within Cycling and Walking.

    Cycling and Walking are more pleasant, are perceived to be much safer, and have been proven to be safer in areas where the speed limit is 20mph (30kph in mainland Europe). One of the keys to achieving behavioural change of journey mode, is by addressing driver behaviour in areas where we wish to promote cycling and walking.

    The DfT have made it possible to introduce 20mph limits without physical traffic calming. Could the simple implementation of 20mph in towns and villages be considered as a requirement for promoting cycling and walking? Why aren’t “Total 20” schemes included in this LTP?

    We applaud the move to reduce speed limits on rural roads. However, 50mph is not appropriate where the road is an obvious cycling link and no alternative exists. An example is cycling between Long Hanborough Station and Bladon/Woodstock; 50mph is inappropriate for this road. We would like the LTP to go further and review speed limits for roads that are cycling links and for which no reasonable alternative exists. Although there has been a program of reviewing speed limits locally, to my knowledge they are not taking into account cycling.

    Behaviour

    The emphasis on travel planning in the section Carbon Reduction is excellent; the factors affecting transport are so much more than just the physical infrastructure.

    In the first consultation stage we submitted a document along with other groups called the Oxfordshire Active Travel Strategy. That document contained a number of soft measures that influence behaviour which haven’t made it into the LTP.

    Temporary road closures over large areas and of single streets provide an opportunity for everyone to try cycling on roads (Sky Ride) and for residents and their children to connect and experience their streets without traffic. We would like to see these schemes mentioned and ask that they be considered as part of Travel Planning or Road Safety.

    For those involved in changing behaviour or improving road safety, life must be a constant battle against the side effects of economic growth and the increasing pace of life. The pressure to get from A to B more quickly, more often isn’t just confined to the drivers of competing delivery companies. We would like to see more research and work undertaken to create behaviour change amongst those who can’t or won’t change mode.

    There are several physical solutions in use to make the interaction between pedestrians and vehicles safe and in our experience this infrastructure can effect driver behaviour. We much prefer zebra crossings as a solution above refuges and signalised crossings. We would like to see the zebra adopted as the default crossing type where appropriate. Zebra crossings bring out the best in people and have the correct priority to encourage walking over driving.

    We feel that for vulnerable road users the onus to reduce risk of harm has moved too far towards the victims. Behaviour change amongst motorised road users is required if a more sustainable transport network is ever going to grow to a point where it meets the objectives of reducing congestion and carbon emissions.

    We fully appreciate that this is not a simple task, but it is essential for success. We would like to offer our support and encouragement to find methods to improve driver behaviour that aren’t viewed as “a war on the motorist”.

    Development

    The policies in the section Supporting Development raise the threshold of proof required to ensure future developments have sustainable transport links. However, given the time period, we wonder if chapter 8 is ambitious enough. Many local authorities are experimenting with traffic free developments now and we believe the LTP for Oxfordshire should include traffic free developments in its vision to 2030.

    Road Safety

    We agree entirely with paragraph 12.19 about over-emphasising the risk of cycling. We made the point under behaviour about how the burden of responsibility seems to have shifted too far towards the vulnerable road user and we would very much like to see OCC present a more balanced view of the risk in your advice to cyclists.

    Cycle Infrastructure

    Paragraph 12.27 makes reference to dual networks. We would like to suggest that this be clarified by endorsing the following for each Area Strategy.

    A Cycle Network that is complete, signed, largely quiet, includes off road sections and which maintains priority over motorised traffic at junctions is required. All reasonable destinations need to be accessible by cycle and routes to these should be cycle friendly if not part of the official network.

    Witney Highway Infrastructure

    The reason given in the order for the Cogges Link Road project states, “Traffic studies show that the majority of traffic in the centre of Witney comprises local journeys to and from locations within Witney.”

    This LTP supports behavioural change, cycling, walking and public transport as the sustainable solutions to local journeys. Is there a justification for the Cogges Link Road on sustainable grounds? How does it compare with alternative solutions in meeting objective 7?

    Combined with the new junction at Downs Road, updating the Shores Green junction on the A40 should be the more sustainable solution when coupled with behavioural change through speed reduction and improvements to cycling, walking and public transport.

    The brief for the Witney Transport Study 2009 explicitly ruled out the assessment of the Shores Green option without the Cogges Link Road implemented. Given the possibility of a more sustainable outcome and a large cost saving we would like to see that option formally assessed.

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