‘Bus Gates Action’ takes to the streets

The action will ‘Chalk The Streets’ in Oxford on 13 June.

The County Council has announced plans to spend £3m to help Oxford and Oxfordshire adjust to a post-Covid world.

In an open letter to the Council on 4 June 2020, #BuildOxfordBackBetter and several other organisations, including the Broken Spoke Bike Co-op, Fossil Free Oxfordshire, Oxford Pedestrians’ Association (OxPA) and Parents For Future Oxford expressed enthusiastic support for the plans put forward by Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council to direct funding from the Government for the safe reopening of the town centre.

The group said they were looking forward to the agreed range of measures including the widening of pavements, building segregated cycle lanes and increasing cycle parking in the city, but asked the Council to consider additional actions, including:

  •       Implementing Connecting Oxford with bus gates now and deliver Connecting Oxford Plus soon after;
  •       Increasing the size of pavements and create segregated cycle lanes on the main arterial roads of Oxford;
  •       Introducing Park and Pedal schemes, with cycle hire and increased cycle parking at Park and Rides and in the city centre.

In addition to the direct request to the Council, an online petition has been created to demand that the county council helps to #BuildOxfordBackBetter,  to keep Oxford safe from a second wave of Covid-19 and to turn Oxford into the UK’s leading walking and cycling city.

The group believe that other cities around the UK are making exciting improvements to cycling and walking infrastructure, and the action planned for Saturday 13 June specifically relates to the addition of ‘bus gates’.  Spokesperson for the group, Charlie Hicks, told Gi Media:

“We’re trying to get demonstrate just how good this will be for local business. Local business in Ghent have performed better since they introduced the circulation plan. And given that we need to do everything we can right now to restart the local economy, we think that bus gates should be part of that plan!”

The Facebook event for the action explains that bus gates are “essentially just CCTV cameras which let buses and bikes through, whilst fining cars and motorbikes.”

The proposed plans for bus gates have been inspired by Ghent, which is very similar to Oxford in population and age. In 2017 Ghent introduced bus gates and since then are reported to have seen:

  • A 12% less rush hour traffic and 40% fewer cars on the main cycle routes;
  • 25% more people on bicycles and 28% higher public transport use; and
  • An 18% improvement in air quality.

The group is planning to pop up at least three sites in central Oxford:

  • Worcester Street bus gate;
  • Oxpens Rd / Thames St bus gate; and
  • South Parks Road bus gate.

For more information on attending the action, please visit the event’s Facebook page.

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