Was Option 1 recommended by a traffic engineer?
No. In July 2020 traffic engineer Chris Proctor was asked to look at the options by DRARA. He identified two possible locations: Option 1 & Option 2. He did not recommend either Option and consultation with the community was only on the concept of an LTN, not the options. When the Council imposed a deadline for the LTN proposal a small group at DRARA chose to put forward Option 1. This was confirmed on a recent neighbourhood Zoom call by the DRARA chairman, who pointed out they were under considerable time pressure.
If the Council is considering Option 2, what’s the problem?
On Feb 22 the County Council officer responsible wrote to us as and said: “We are still formulating the Divinity Road LTN proposals... we are considering 2 options for Divinity Road Area – closure at the top (at Stone Street and by Warneford Lane) and in the middle (between Minster Road and Warneford Road). The 2 options have different benefits and disbenefits for different groups.” We’re encouraged by the letter but we need to continue to make the case to councillors.
What will happen to Golf Club traffic?
Oxford Golf Club generated around 2,000 journeys to and from the car park every week over four months this summer*. A club survey of members found that 75% of this traffic uses the Warneford Lane entrance to Hill Top Road. Under Option 2, this would remain the case. But under Option 1 all golf traffic, as well as all deliveries, residents and visitors, will have to use Southfield Road or Divinity Road. Choose Option 2 and Southfield & Divinity residents may never see another golf club car. *Data from OGC booking system
Will Option 2 divide our community?
The only “division” LTN brings is to the road. Bollards are a primitive solution to a narrow question: how can we reduce through-traffic? And they might bring other benefits, including more on-street community interaction in a great communal space on the flat ground around the Option 2 mid-point bollards. What they cannot do is split a community as strong as ours, unless you believe the ability to drive the length of Divinity Road is what coheres our neighbourhood. Any suggestion that it could lead to “ghettoisation” of the bottom end of our streets is insulting to our friends and neighbours on and around the Cowley Road.
Will the LTN stop speeding?
Any LTN only directly addresses the volume of traffic passing through a neighbourhood, not how fast vehicles travel. But Option 2 has a significant advantage in that mid-point bollards will prevent cars roaring down the hill, particularly on the flatter “race track” part of Divinity Road. Sadly it doesn’t mean cars below the bollards will no longer speed, but they will have significantly less room to do so.
How are other Cowley LTNs designed?
Three LTNs have been approved in the Cowley area, around Florence Park, Temple Cowley & Church Cowley, and they all rely predominantly on bollards at the centre of the neighbourhood, allowing residents access to their nearest main road as well as distributing traffic evenly around the streets.
Why do you keep going on about process?
The decision on LTNs is part of a wider transport scheme governed by law, ultimately from the Department of Transport. That means the process has to be open, transparent and lawful. Until very recently it has been opaque and clouded by unfortunate misinformation, risking either LTN failing - not because of which option was considered, but because a flawed process will not withstand challenge.
What if I don’t want any bollards?
You are not alone in having misgivings about such a binary response to the complex issue of traffic. Other more sophisticated alternatives could become available, including access and speed cameras, but not, it appears, with the money required to install and maintain them. Just £20,000 has been allotted to the Divinity Road Area LTN. Barriers/Bollards are being installed across Cowley and are planned for elsewhere in the City. All the more reason to ensure that, if an LTN is inevitable, the best possible option is chosen.
You live on Hill Top Road, why should we listen to you?
We came together as neighbours because we shared concerns about the impact on our street and the whole community of Option 1 and the process so far. But as the messages of support demonstrate, our concerns are shared by many in the neighbourhood. It’s true Hill Top Road doesn’t experience the same traffic volume as Divinity & Southfield Roads. But uniquely among our streets, the majority of Hill Top Road residents will not see any reduction in traffic passing their homes from either LTN. Despite there being no direct benefit in return for the inevitable inconvenience, there is support for traffic reduction in Hill Top Road.
What happens next? We are seeking clarification from the County Council as there has been conflicting information about process. We understand that County is consulting key stakeholders now, ahead of a possible decision on which LTN to install at the end of the month, though this is not confirmed. There will then be a ‘pause’ for the local elections. If an LTN is approved, there may be further public consultation carried out by the County Council. Assuming the LTN has support, bollards or similar obstructions will be installed possibly in June, or a bit later. After a ‘trial’ period of 6 months, an ‘evaluation’ will take place (not confirmed what this will entail, or what criteria for evaluation will be use). After this ‘trial’ 6 months, a further 12 months of experiment will continue, unless (we assume) the positioning of the bollards, or the LTN has not worked.