Plans have been set out to make changes to roads in Oxford, some of which could stay in place after the pandemic.

Oxford City Council is talking to partners about a range of temporary and permanent measures including pedestrianising some streets, altering bus routes and creating wider pavements.

The full list includes:

  • Temporarily giving more space to pedestrians and cyclists through road closures, traffic light controlled one-way streets, and wider pavements.
  • Creating a segregated network of cycle routes with added on-street cycle parking
  • Re-organising bus routes to give more road space to pedestrians and cyclists
  • Suspending all loading bays during shopping hours to increase space for pedestrians and cyclists
  • Pedestrianising Broad Street and adding seating and allowing activities such as market stalls which are all social distancing compliant.
  • Temporarily allowing tables and chairs outside food premises.
  • Partners talking to the city council include Oxfordshire County Council and the University of Oxford.
  • Oxford City Council says since the start of lockdown, the air pollution monitoring station on St Aldates has seen a 59 per cent reduction in nitrogen oxide levels.

Cllr Alex Hollingsworth, cabinet member for planning and sustainable transport, said: “At a time when our daily news is filled with stories of heroism and tragedy it seems strange to be thinking about what Oxford and Oxfordshire might be like when we finally emerge from lockdown.

“Even so, things will be different. And if things are going to be different, we need to start thinking about how they might be better.

“When it comes to our roads, the COVID lockdown has brought unforeseen benefits. As so many people have said to me, without most of the traffic, streets that are usually noisy, fume-filled spaces dominated by motor vehicles are now places where pedestrians and cyclists can enjoy clean air and hear birds sing.

“With all the indications are that the lockdown will only be lifted gradually, and that measures like physical distancing will stay in place even as the economy restarts. It means that pedestrians and cyclists will need space not just to stay safe, but to stay healthy.

“This is a once in a generation opportunity to transform our city centre towards a cleaner and more pedestrian friendly environment whilst allowing us to support businesses and the local economy to return to operation. I look forward to working with our partners on continuing to develop our current projects, as well as exploring new ideas which will help to make our roadways and public spaces safer and cleaner after lockdown.”

Oxfordshire County Council is due to publish responses to its Local Transport & Connectivity Plan in September. Widened pavements, more outdoor seating and better cycling provision are included.

See also: Major changes to roads in Reading

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