Why are cars permitted to park at this busy junction?

Parking puzzle: Church Cowley Road in Oxford

Parking puzzle: Church Cowley Road in Oxford

First published in Gray Matter by

On most days of my life, except when it is pouring with rain, I enjoy a bike ride around the city, usually lasting about 90 minutes and taking me perhaps a dozen miles. The activity supplies not only exercise but a significant opportunity for thinking, sometimes concerning things I encounter on my journey.

This week, for instance, I found myself wondering — not for the first time — which road engineer was responsible for creating (or at any rate for not removing) what constitutes one of the strangest stretches of on-street parking in Oxford.

I refer to the row of spaces on the south side of Church Cowley Road very close to the junction with Rose Hill and the traffic lights that control it.

These effectively block — even if there is only one car occupying them — what in other circumstances ought to be a filter lane for traffic planning to turn left at the lights.

This means that at busy times there is a long single line of traffic leading towards the junction. Far fewer cars therefore pass through the lights each time they are green than would be the case if two lanes existed. From the cyclist’s point of view, it means there is often the obstacle of parked cars to negotiate beside moving traffic on the approach to the junction.

I suppose it would be argued that the spaces are required by local householders. But in fact there are no houses on that side of the road at that point.

As for the houses on the other side of the road, they have parking spaces of their own in the road. In addition, many of the owners have transformed their front gardens into hard stands for their vehicles.

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