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Cyclists say £1m proposals for The Plain do not address all concerns
A £1M upgrade of a busy junction in East Oxford is set to make life safer for cyclists.
Oxfordshire County Council will decide on Thursday whether to implement improvements at The Plain.
Highways officers are recommending the scheme should go ahead, but cycle campaigners say the changes do not go far enough.
The council is planning to spend more than £960,000 on making the roundabout at the bottom of Cowley Road more cycle-friendly, with work scheduled to start in the autumn.
The Government gave the council most of the money last year, with an additional £130,000 being provided by the city and county councils.
Peter Lerner, the county council’s interim deputy director for environment and economy, said: “The Plain roundabout is a very busy five-arm roundabout and main junction into the city centre from the east.
“The bid was submitted in part because for less-confident cyclists it discourages some of them from cycling.
“It is anticipated that the proposed design would significantly change the appearance and operation of the roundabout, helping cyclists of a wide range of experience and abilities feel safer and more comfortable.
“The additional footway widths would also benefit the many pedestrians in the area.”
As part of the scheme, roads leading up to The Plain will be narrowed with the pavements and the central island expanded.
The angles of the five junctions will be adjusted and the road surface at the roundabout will be a different colour.
As well as slowing traffic, the council hopes this will reduce potential accidents between cars and cyclists.
Simon Hunt, chairman of cycling group Cyclox, said: “It is a highly used part of the road network in Oxford.
“It is no more dangerous than elsewhere, but the real problem is that it is a serious barrier to the would-be cyclist, and that’s the problem any changes have to address.
“We don’t think these changes go far enough. The proposals could have considered the lead-in to the junction much more than just the work on The Plain itself.”
St Clements city councillor Graham Jones said: “Only two days ago I saw a cyclist come to grief as a car barged on to the roundabout from Iffley Road without looking right.
“It’s the junction with Cowley and Iffley roads where most accidents happen, and something needed to be done.
“The transport planners have listened sensibly to cyclists and other road users and amended their plans.
“So, for example, traffic will now continue to filter from the bridge into St Clements, while cyclists bound for Cowley Road and Iffley Road get protection from a clearly marked single traffic lane.”
Council figures show there have been 35 accidents involving cyclists – 33 slight, two serious – at or in the vicinity of The Plain in the past five years.
The work at The Plain will be accompanied with changes in High Street, where cyclists will be prohibited from turning left into Longwall Street, which the council hopes will allow the junction to flow better.
Once work starts in the autumn, the council plans to complete the scheme by the end of March 2015.
A decision on whether the work should go ahead will be made by county councillor David Nimmo Smith, the cabinet member for transport, at a meeting on Thursday in County Hall at 10.30am.
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