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An uneasy defence
11:41am Thursday 28th June 2012 in Letters
Sir – You are absolutely right to say that the county council’s unwillingness to accept a speed reduction below 50mph on the Northern By-pass adjacent to the proposed Barton West housing development would make a nonsense of the idea of transforming it into an urban boulevard.
This ‘concession’ of the highway authority to the city council’s objective of integrating the new development with the surrounding community is explained (in its formal objection to the plan) in terms of ‘bringing it into line with the majority of the Oxford ring road’.
Yet the sections where a 50mph limit currently applies (eg on the Eastern Bypass near Horspath Road, or on the A34 at North Hinksey) epitomise precisely the severance and appalling environment which Barton West should be protected from.
It is an unfortunate consequence of divided local government that the treatment of the ring road should be argued out in terms of a trade-off between the interests of ‘motorists’ and ‘residents’ as if these people inhabited different planets.
The strategic role of the A40 is much overplayed and the majority of its users are in fact travelling within a few miles either side of Oxford.
Motorists’ living within this area might ask themselves how they would react if asked to accept the equivalent of the Northern By-pass in their own neighbourhood.
The difference in journey time resulting from a 40mph limit over the Barton West section would be barely perceptible and should be a ‘price’ acknowledged as consistent with civilised conditions on major roads in urban areas.
Besides, in this case, the county council’s concern to defend motorists’ interests sits somewhat uneasily alongside its failure to address the standstill conditions which regularly characterise the A40 between Eynsham and North Oxford just a couple of miles up the road!
Peter Headicar, Oxford Civic Society Transport Group