Radical new plans to tackle city centre congestion could see large areas of Oxford become entirely pedestrianized within the next 20 years.
Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council enlisted experts to help inform a transport and public realm strategy designed to ease congestion in the heart of the city.
The four concepts put forward for the Oxford Local Plan 2036 look at reducing congestion by extending footway space for pedestrians, creating a series of one-way zones for buses and two-way for cyclists, as well as a major re-routing of buses in and out of the centre.
The first two ideas from Phil Jones Associates and ITP (Integrated Transport Planning) would create a “two-loop system” with the city divided around Cornmarket Street, which would be opened up to one-way bus traffic linking High Street to Magdalen Street, and completely pedestrianizing St Aldates, Broad Street and George Street.
The two designs in the second option reveal a one-way system around the city, turning St Aldates and High Street into one-way bus routes heading towards Longwall Street.
Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, board member for planning & regulatory services, said: “One of the benefits of getting the buses to work more efficiently in the city centre is that it increases their reliability further out, at their destinations and their origins, meaning more people are more likely to use them.
“For example at the moment there isn’t a reliable bus service between Cowley and Headington and everybody knows it.
“By making the buses work more efficiently, if you can get from Cowley to Headington reliably on the bus, you’re less likely to use your car.”
Councillor Yvonne Constance, cabinet member for environment and economy for the county said: “The county and city councils share the same aims for Oxford when it comes to getting people around Oxford efficiently, improving air quality, reducing congestion and protecting and enhancing the city’s internationally renowned heritage and public realm.
“The options would complement plans for a zero emission zone which will see improvements in air quality in Oxford in the coming years.”
Longer term, the county council has proposed a range of options for getting in and around Oxford in 2050, including bus tunnels under the city centre.
– Owen Hughes