Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council have shared updates on the temporary bus gate proposals for Oxford city centre, which aim to assist Oxford’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
A spokesperson for the council has said the bus gates aim to create an environment which is safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
This is to be achieved through ensuring “quicker, more frequent buses on less congested roads“. It will thus allow potentially reallocating road space to create an improved pedestrian and cycling environment.
Under normal conditions, vehicles use the city centre as a cut through. The council’s aim is to reduce the use of the city centre as a through-route, thereby cutting traffic levels and congestion within and on the approaches to the centre, to reboot the local economy and support local businesses.
The two councils have now launched a public survey to help inform the proposals, including a list of frequently asked questions addressing comments that have already been submitted to the councils.
The survey will inform the decisions about the scheme including the location of the bus gates, timings, and how road space can best be reallocated ahead of the proposed installation of the temporary bus gates at the end of September.
Earlier this month the councils announced their intention to install the temporary bus gates as part of a wider response to assist in Oxford’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
A bus gate is a form of access restriction that allows only buses, cyclists, emergency vehicles and other limited exempt users to pass through a particular point at specified times of day.
The new temporary bus gates would be implemented using experimental traffic regulation orders following guidance recently issued to local authorities by the Department for Transport to assist in the delivery of emergency active travel measures and other pandemic recovery schemes.
It is proposed that the two temporary bus gates for the city centre are to be located:
On Hythe Bridge Street or Worcester Street, between Frideswide Square and Beaumont Street
On St Cross Road or South Parks Road, between Parks Road and Manor Road.
(Map of proposed temporary bus gate 1 somewhere between A and B in Hythe Bridge Street or Worcester Street, between Frideswide Square and Beaumont Street)
(Map of proposed temporary bus gate 2 somewhere between C and D on St Cross Road or South Parks Road, between Parks Road and Manor Road)
The key points of the proposals are:
Restricting car traffic cutting through the city to ensure quicker, more reliable, and more frequent buses operating on less congested roads in to the city centre in an effort to reboot the local economy and support local businesses
Reallocating road space to improve and encourage cycling and walking, including new or wider cycle lanes and closing roads to allow restaurants to place tables and chairs in the street create an outdoor café-culture, and to create safer and more attractive civic spaces which revitalises the city centre economy
Cyclists, buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, Blue Badge holders and disabled tax allowance vehicles will be allowed through the bus gates during its hours of operation
Limited access through the bus gates for residents within the central area of the city is being considered
Exemptions for other users are also being considered.
The bus gates would potentially operate seven days a week between 7.30 am and 6.30 pm, aligning to the existing restrictions at the current High Street bus gate.
The bus gates are specifically designed not to prevent access to any areas of the city, including the city centre.
Access will be maintained through the bus gates for certain modes of travel and vehicles; other traffic will still be able to get to their destination via alternative routes.
The scheme will be funded by both councils and implemented by Oxfordshire County Council as the transport authority.