Oxford and its bicycle bollards
Fault on both sides here
Oxford has garnered a lot of publicity over the last year or so especially in regards to the car restricting bollards that have appeared there.
Like others have been when I’ve seen these stories I’ve been ready to spit tacks despite being a big advocate of cycling infrastructure myself. But…..
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When the powers that be installed car infrastructure many decades or maybe even a century ago in many places the rich men who advocated for cars at the time didn’t play fair with trams & bicycles.
If you don’t want to watch that short movie of mine the gist of it is that it was a war but it took a few decades (at least) to win and when they did ‘win’ in most cases it was not exactly put to a referendum as it would have undoubtedly lost in such a case. The working men and women wanted to keep their public transport and the middle class their bicycles. It was only the upper class who could afford cars at the time and it was only men (practically) who drove them. Cars were political then & still are political now. It’s never going to be the case that there won’t be trouble if you try and change transport patterns. The oil & car industries are not without clout even despite Wokestar Inc of Geneva (that would be the Haus of Klaus). So it would be strongly suggested to dot your eyes and cross your tees (the letters of course).
In many cities we could get rid of 90% or more of the cars and practically everybody would be better off. But one of the problems is that the last 70 years built environment is car-centric and therefore in the Americas, Australia, NZ (and I would suggest Moscow) you have sprawl that is bicycle resistant in the larger cities. Hence the idea of 15 minute cities have appeared & maybe that idea was not a World Economic Forum (WEF) one to begin with but these hucksters with a dystopian and tyrranical bent sure have jumped on them. But I don’t think anybody has ever seen any pictures with Klaus Schwab or Yuval Noah Harari on a bicycle or at least not recently? And I don’t think anyone turns up to Davos on a bicycle do they? Hypocrites every single one of them.
But there’s plenty of pictures of Dutch royalty & politicians of both left and right on bicylces and in the 1970s and 1980s the Dutch put in cycling infrastructure without so much resentment & anger.
So what the hell is going on in Oxford? Stupidity that’s what. On both sides of the argument. Oxford is by the by an eminently cyclable city.
There’s a lot of bicycles in Oxford. When you arrive by train they’re there and all around town you will see plenty of them.
I hired a bicycle myself for a few days last week when I was there (cheap at a bicycle shop in Jericho) & spent the next few days cycling around the city. Somewhat surprisingly in the light of all those bicycles seen around town (but mostly locked up it needs to be noted, fewer are actually cycling) the cycling infrastructure in Oxford is more or less non-existent. No better than London, Melbourne or Dunedin (or Prague). The best cycling paths are repurposed pedestrian paths leading out of the city of Oxford.
I was staying down Sandford On Thames about 5 miles or 7/8 kilometres south of Oxford itself so I cycled the reasonably adequate path that followed the Thames both days that I had the bicycle. And there was another path that I took to the East of Oxford and that too was adquate although not as extensive. But in the city itself the infrastructure is more or less non-existant and dangerous. So something should be done but what the Council has done is completely counter productive. Instead of putting the infrastructure in where the bikes are, around the city centre and University buildings they decided to make some roads a kilometre or more south of the city their trial car free roads. And this has certainly not been done well for what is the purpose except to inconvenience car owners while barely making any improvement to the cycling infrastructure in the city. This is a lose lose arrangement.
Nevertheless the few car stopping bollards that are closer to the city really wouldn’t be raising the ire of most locals as it’s clear from the number of cycles on those roads that most of them probably prefer cycling to cars. And the restrictions are not very extensive either, maybe a few hundred yards/metres in all cases. And there are easy alternatives, maybe a minute or two longer at the most, for delivery drivers. Locals would hardly be put out. And these roads are also not out in Suburbia, they come right up to the retail part of the main shopping street in East Oxford maybe only a kilometre from the centre of Oxford.
There are also two bike shops within a 100 metres of them as well. It’s a lot of kerfuffle over not much. But nevertheless they still seemed designed to raise the schackles of drivers and not much else. As a cyclist you have about 100 metres or so of cycling before you’re back on more dangerous roads. But one should also note that pedestrians have taken to walking on the roads with their prams and so on. It’s not just cyclists who benefit from cars vacating these spaces.
The bollards on Howard Street are a little more problematic (although as you can see here they stop about 1/3 of the way down the street just before the pub.
For starters Howard Street is in Suburbia even though it’s really only another kilometre out of town. The claim is that cars were using Howard Street to travel between two arterial roads and that 6,000 cars a day were doing this. That may be the case (I have my doubts) but there are clearly mature effortsto calm the traffic on this street. The idea of restricting cars on this street is not new. But once again there’s very little benefit for cyclists and clearly this is also out of the student zone so the Oxford Council is just asking for trouble here and they’re getting it. And they deserve to get it.
I don’t know if these attempts have anything to do with 15 minute cities or not but I would point out that the whole of Oxford is basically a 15 minute city. But they’re being implemented poorly, there’s little to no gain for cyclists who have to put up with minimal or non-existent infrastructure in 99% of their daily cycling and Oxford Council is picking a fight that they won’t win without a huge amount of trouble. And this did not need to be the case, just check out what happened in a similar sized university town in Holland 40+ years ago.
Both cars and bicycles can be restricted in 15 minute cities. In fact I’d suggest cars are more likely to be restricted. We need to separate the 15 minute clowns and cycling infrastructure from each other. And the councils who do token virtue signalling for the WEF from others of us who would like to see real cycling infrastructure. Oxford has it all wrong. The council should be sacked.
Trees that look about 20 years old or more alternated on each side of the road with a concrete barrier around them so that you can’t drive straight down the road.
Say what you like but this bike stuff is just an attack approach.
It might as well be a gender change for innocents.
All being used against logic.
Is bicycle resistant like vaccine hesitant? Traffic engineers nearly always get it wrong, but that's because they act on inaccurate presumptions. Any impediment to driving will be fiercely attacked by most motorists, unless they directly benefit from it, so shunting traffic away from their neighborhood is acceptable, even if they have to drive a trifle farther. Most bicycle "safety" infrastructure increases the likelihood of crashes- because most crashes are rider only- so poorly maintained and constricted lanes and paths become hazardous. Intersections are the most likely collision nexus for bicycles and vehicles. Drivers like for and only see "traffic", so moving cyclists outside of the traffic lane increases their invisibility. Glad you're having an interesting trip. I walked around Oxford but I was young. Nederlands did go through some bicyclist/ motorist wars in the 80's to get where they are now.