Road To Nowhere

It’s hard to imagine there being a more thorough review of the Cogges Link Road. Here is Inspector Stephen Roscoe’s report. Section 7 gives the reasoning behind his recommendation that the Side Roads Order and Compulsory Purchase Order required to implement the CLR be “not confirmed”.

Paragraph 7.43 says…

The Council has drawn my attention to the fact that the January 2011 White Paper emphasises that transport is crucial to economic growth. The White Paper however also records that people who travel to shop on foot, by cycle or by public transport spend as much, if not more, than those using the car, and transport is therefore not the only factor seen as important to growth.

Putting aside the confusing use of the word transport, this comment highlights a lack of balance in how the County prioritises its transport schemes.

During the consultation for the Oxfordshire Local Transport Plan, the cycling and walking objective was given a high priority across the county, from rural areas, through market towns, right up to the city of Oxford; a clear mandate. However, when it comes to allocating money, the perceived importance of “transport to support economic growth” means that the actual spend on cycling and walking measures is minimal; <1% of the overall transport budget.

That brings us to the Complementary Measures. These are the improvements within Witney that will make walking and cycling a preferred choice for most local journeys and restrict traffic so that the alternative route is used. All the noise to date has been about the choice of road, but the key to achieving the objective will be the Complementary Measures.

Now that the County have been given a firm steer for how to proceed, we need to focus on making sustainable modes the natural choice. Ensuring safe routes to school for children, and their teachers for that matter, is a good place to start. There are some good ideas in the complementary measures study, but it needs firming up and a similar level of scrutiny applied to the proposals as we’ve seen with the out of town part of the CLR.

There are some loose ends too. Windrush Cemetery on Oxford Hill has no safe access for walkers or bicycle users; mourners are currently expected to park off site and cross a 3 lane 60mph carriageway. This was to be resolved with the CLR but now needs to be included within the work to implement the Shores Green Interchange. The SGI proposal as it stands also gives no thought to cycling between Witney and South Leigh.

And then there’s the West End Link Phase 2… The road to solving Witney’s congestion problems is still a rocky one, but thanks to some strong community involvement it feels like we’re now on the right one.

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