A TEMPORARY narrowing of the road in St Giles could be carried out to see if the street could be more pedestrianised.

Oxford Pedestrians’ Association is to launch a petition calling on the highways authority, Oxfordshire County Council, to run the trial.

This would involve closing off one half of the road with traffic cones, north and south, for days, weeks or months and monitoring how traffic copes.

The pedestrians’ association, which has the backing of Oxford Civic Society and cycling group Cyclox, is adamant the two dual carriageways would function just as well as single carriageways.

They say St Giles could be “one of Europe’s most beautiful spaces” if it were there were more pavement and less road.

The three groups presented the results of some recent traffic surveys at a meeting at the Quaker Meeting House in St Giles on Thursday night.

Civic society chairman Peter Thompson opened the meeting by saying: “St Giles is potentially one of the most beautiful public open spaces in Europe, in one of the most famous cities in the world, and it is a complete anomaly it is turned into what looks like a landing strip for light aircraft rather than an attractive space for visitors of all kinds.”

Pedestrians’ association chairwoman Sushila Dhall added: “The whole roadway is very wide but the traffic basically travels in single file most of its length, so you get a great deal of unused space which is a no-go area for pedestrians.”

Volunteers from the three groups carried out a number of hour-long traffic surveys on the road over the past three years, counting vehicles, cycles and pedestrians.

In one snap-shot survey on Sunday, June 7, this year, the surveyors counted a total of 202 pedestrians, 14 cyclists, and 75 people in vehicles on the street at one time.

They concluded that it was “absolutely clear that pedestrians outnumber vehicles in St Giles”.

When the floor was opened up, several councillors spoke in support of making the street more pedestrianised.

County councillor for St Margaret’s Ward John Howson said: “I am entirely in agreement with almost everything that has been said, although alterations would have a knock-on effect in other areas.”

He also pointed out that the new county council transport plan, agreed by councillors in September, suggested the principle of further pedestrianisation.

Ms Dhall said she imagined the pavement would either be widened on the western side of the street or in the centre of the street between the roads, but probably not on the western side. Speakers largely agreed that parking should be maintained on the street.

Oxfordshire County Council transport planner Robert Freshwater told the meeting that the petition would be considered.

He added: “We welcome debate on what could be done at St Giles.”