• Mon. May 27th, 2024

No more cycle deaths in Oxford say campaigners


Oct 1, 2022

Dr Alison Hill , chair of Cyclox, gives an update on how the campaign group is trying to eradicate serious and fatal cyicling accidents.

One year has passed since the death of Jenny Wong at the junction of Headley Way with London Road, and six months since Ellen Moilanen died at Oxford Parkway and Dr Ling Felce at The Plain.

All young women on their bikes, all in collision with heavy goods vehicles turning left.

Many people turned out to hold vigils to mark these unnecessary and preventable deaths. At the site of each of the deaths there is a white ‘ghost bike’ to mark the tragic events.

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The impacts on each of the families as they cope with their loss is heart-rending to imagine.

As a result of these deaths and the public outpouring of grief, horror, and anger, Cyclox and other active travel partners called for the County Council to adopt Vision Zero.

Vision Zero envisages a future where no-one is killed or seriously injured on Oxford’s roads.

It requires statutory agencies to work in partnership, together with campaigners, to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, while at the same time increasing safe and healthy travel for all.

Traffic deaths have to date been seen as the inevitable side effect of our current transport system. Oxfordshire is no exception in somehow accepting the inevitability of collisions.

Fatal and severe crashes are often described as ‘accidents’, but these life changing tragedies are preventable.

Photo: Cyclox

The old think is that road users are responsible for safety and that they behave predictably. The new approach assumes that people make mistakes, and that the road system needs to build in measures that ensure these mistakes don’t result in collisions that result in fatalities or serious injuries.

Vision Zero is a preventative approach that prioritises traffic safety in all decisions about our roads, streets, and transport.

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We were encouraged that the County Council committed in the Local Transport and Connectivity Plan to achieving Vision Zero (that is no deaths or serious injury on the roads of Oxfordshire) by 2050, with the interim (and we recognise very challenging) target of reducing road fatalities or life changing injuries by 50% by 2030.

We are expecting now to see urgent action to prioritise road safety rather than relegate it to something that is important but less important than ensuring that traffic flows free and fast.

But it has been a slow start. So far we have seen only modest changes to the fatal junctions.

At the Headley Way London Road junction, an off-road left turn from London Road on to Headley Way, and advance cycle signalling has just been installed to ensure people on bikes can get off ahead of motor traffic.

At the Parkway Station some water filled barriers have been put in to shorten the slip road to Parkway Station. None of the other changes requested in a letter, signed by 174 people, to the County Council on 21st February have been acted on.

At the Plain there have been no changes despite some very easy wins, like removing the parking outside the Ballroom Emporium and placing barriers on the central island leading on to The Plain from Magdalen Bridge.

We are told that there are plans in the pipeline that will be implemented in November.

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To achieve Vision Zero Cyclox is calling for a significant reduction in car trips, high quality protected cycle lanes, safe junctions and crossings, a 20mph speed limit across the city and safety standards for HGVs coming into the city, with their drivers trained in safe urban driving.

Vision Zero requires a fundamentally different approach to what has gone before, but six months into agreeing to adopt Vision Zero little has changed. We expect much more rapid action from the county council to achieve the short-term target of reducing road fatalities or life changing injuries by 50% by 2030. There is no time to waste.

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This story was written by Andy Ffrench, he joined the team more than 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Andy.ffrench@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter @OxMailAndyF