Below you can find our official response to the proposals and download a pdf copy of the document
Comments EATF Plan Proposals, Bicester
06 February 2020
Rick Hughes, Paul Troop & George Bennett, on behalf of BicesterBUG
This document sets out our response regarding the Emergency Active Travel Fund (EATF) plans (both consultations, BicesterActiveTravel & Bicester ActiveTravel2) from Bicester Bike Users’ Group (‘BBUG’) from the perspective of cycle users.
We welcome any and all efforts to improve the provision for cycling in Bicester and this opportunity is critical in making the ‘Gear Change’ that is needed for the health and economy of the town.
The area being upgraded includes several routes which will become parts of the cycle network defined in the LCWIP, the aspirations of the work should reflect that. For example signage and junctions should anticipate the eventual complete network.
The proposals are in general sensible and well-thought out, but some consideration of detail is needed to ensure that they work for all users.
20mph Zone Proposal
We are glad to see that our previous feedback (v1 of this document sent 17 December 2020) has been heeded and the 20mph zone expanded.
It would still be sensible to consider the rest of the central area in the very near future where vulnerable cyclists and pedestrians would be expected to walk. Due to the current ban on cycling on Sheep Street the routes travelling from Banbury/Buckingham/Bucknell Rds to Market Square/London Road must use routes without 20mph limits e.g. Manorsfield Rd and Victoria Rd, this needs to be remedied and consideration given to 20mph limits across Bicester’s residential streets.
PROPOSAL BOX 1 Villiers Road/Middleton Stoney Road Junction
This is a challenging junction because there are a number of routes converging and it is a key access point to the quietway on Ray Road.
We want to see that the links between the on-road cycle lanes to the west and the shared use path to the east are carefully integrated in both directions with a clear, safe and simple transition possible.
Reducing the width of the mouth of the junction with the Middleton Stoney Road would help to reduce motor vehicle speeds and improve the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.
A protected route with priority across the mouth of the junction in accordance with the Oxfordshire Cycle Design Standards [2.2.5] Bicester Local Cycling Walking Infrastructure Plan  and LTN 1/20 [Fig 1.1 and 10.5.7] would significantly improve the safety of vulnerable pedestrians and cyclists.
Provision should be made to ensure that cyclists can travel in all directions, as per LTN 1/20 [Table 10-1].
PROPOSAL BOX 2 Middleton Stoney Road between Villiers Road and Roundabout with Oxford Road
The provision of shared use facilities is no longer favoured in LTN1/20 [1.6.1] unless it is not feasible to provide segregation. On the Middleton Stoney Road, there is space on both sides of the carriageway to provide segregated facilities. This route is a key access point for a significant proportion of the population of Bicester, and would bring safety, economic, and health benefits if properly constructed.
Rather than incomplete and indirect routes, the routes should be continuous on both sides.
Priority over minor roads and access point is desirable and required the OCC Cycle Design Standards, the LTN 1/20, and Bicester LCWIP.
The painted cycleway is deeply problematic in that evidence has shown that it increases motor vehicle speeds and increases the probability of accidents. It should be removed.
The space vacated by removal of the painted cycleway could be redistributed and used to constructed segregated foot and cycle paths.
The proposed path on the southern side of Middleton Stoney Road should extend eastward to the existing infrastructure. On both north and south sides, the provision should be the recommended segregated cycleway and footway.
The uncontrolled crossings should be of the ‘raised table’ type to ensure slower speeds at these critical crossings.
PROPOSAL BOX 3 Middleton Stoney Road/Oxford Road Roundabout
This roundabout is deeply problematic for pedestrians and cyclists. They cannot be expected to use the carriageway due to the speed and volume of the traffic.
Crossing points need to be provided across each of the three arms, close to the roundabout rather than away from the desire lines. These crossing points need to be connected along natural desire lines to the shared paths on both sides of each arm. See below plan, also showing route of footpath through Oxford Road sports pitches.
Two of the three islands do not have dropped kerbs, so are inaccessible to disabled users. Ideally the islands would be increased in size sufficiently to accommodate a vulnerable pedestrian or a wheeled bicycle or simply removed entirely.
Widening of the shared use path facility should be seriously considered. Shared use is no longer preferred and although it may be necessary due to width restrictions, maximisation is necessary to avoid unnecessary conflict between pedestrians and cyclists. It should be noted that OCC’s Bicester LCWIP requires that shared paths be a minimum of 3.5m .
PROPOSAL BOX 4 Oxford Road between Middleton Stoney Road and Pingle Drive Roundabout
Widening of the shared use path facility to at least 3.5m as per OCC’s Bicester LCWIP should be seriously considered. Shared use is no longer preferred (see LTN 1/20 [1.6.1 ]) and although it may be necessary due to width restrictions, maximisation is necessary to avoid unnecessary conflict between pedestrians and cyclists.
As per our comment in the introduction about signage and completeness of the network, redundant and/or contradictory signage must be removed, such as the example below at the Acorn Pub heading East
PROPOSAL BOX 6 Kings End between Middleton Stoney Road Roundabout and existing signalised pedestrian crossing
This is a crucial link. Widening of the shared use path facility to at least 3.5m should be seriously considered. Shared use is no longer preferred and although it may be necessary due to width restrictions, maximisation is necessary to avoid unnecessary conflict between pedestrians and cyclists. A portion of the verge / layby could be used to widen the path.
The south-eastern side is very narrow. However, there is a footpath that runs behind the Oxford Road Sports pitches and via a path to Piggy Lane. This would be a preferable off-road route to the centre for pedestrians and cyclists approaching from the South and West. There is sufficient space to widen the footpath significantly.
PROPOSAL BOX 7 Existing signalised pedestrian Crossing outside No 36 Kings End
Consideration of a parallel crossing should be given if sufficient space could be found to provide segregated paths approaching it.
PROPOSAL BOX 8 Kings End between existing crossings
Cycling provision should have priority over side roads such as King’s Avenue, Kingsclere Road, and King’s End as per the OCC Cycle Design Standards, LTN 1/20 and Bicester LCWIP.
In addition, the mouths of these junctions should be narrowed to facilitate quick and safe crossing by pedestrians and cyclists in accordance with OCC’s Bicester LCWIP .
PROPOSAL BOX 9 Queens Avenue existing pedestrian crossing
Consideration of a parallel crossing should be given, particularly as Queen’s Avenue is sufficiently wide to accommodate segregated pedestrian and cycle paths. Parallel crossings are much more accessible for pedestrians and cyclists and cheaper to implement and maintain.
Signs and markings should explicitly help west going cyclists to turn right across Kings End as they approach the crossing.
PROPOSAL BOX 10 Piggy Lane between Kings End and Cemetery Road
This is a very promising route that could become very well used with some attention. Note that it could also be connected via a footpath to Oxford Road Sports Pitches.
Ideally there would be a direct crossing from Piggy Lane to King’s Avenue.
PROPOSAL BOX 11 Cemetery Road
As above, this is a useful connection in need to repair, consideration should also be given to upgrading the shared path through Oxford Road sports pitches.
PROPOSAL BOX 12 Kings End Church Street
On road cycling is acceptable if the traffic volume is reduced and the speed limit brought to 20mph.
Through traffic needs to be actively discouraged through removal of road signage suggesting through routes. In addition, signs such as ‘local access only’ could be deployed and the radii at the mouth of the junction should be narrowed in accordance with the OCC Bicester LCWIP .
Visual cues should be introduced to imply this is a residential road. This could include removing the on-carriageway markings, narrowing the mouth of the entrance to the area, and using planters etc.
PROPOSAL BOX 13 Church Street
On road cycling is acceptable if the traffic volume is reduced and the speed limit brought to 20mph. Removal of road markings to slow traffic, pavements can be widened.
PROPOSAL BOX 14 Causeway
This is a crucial link for the economic re-development of Bicester. It is a historic and characterful street, which could appeal to tourists and provide the missing link Bicester Village with the centre of Bicester and the historical area of Church Street and King’s End. However, at present it is dominated by speeding cars shortcutting through the centre, is noisy, polluted, and seriously unpleasant. The lack of a cycle route in one direction is a huge barrier to active travel in Bicester.
The optimal solution would be to have complete shared space (proposal B) with the option to do an experimental or future closure of the Causeway to through traffic. There is currently insufficient space given to footpaths giving the impression of limited space. Pedestrians always have to use the carriageway anyway as it stands.
A shared space would allow pedestrians and cyclists to better used the space, and discourage cars from speeding.
The proposed on-carriage way contra flow cycle way (Proposal A) is not supported by BicesterBUG in its current guise. We are of the opinion that this will be a danger to cyclists. It will permit motor vehicles to try and overtake vulnerable cyclists where both are travelling east as drivers will be able to use the contraflow cycle lane. Painted lines are not well observed and will encourage higher speeds. Use of the contraflow travelling west will be widely perceived as intimidating and dangerous by precisely the demographics this scheme is looking to encourage.
The figure below illustrates the current road layout and illustrates how daunting it is to new cyclists to be overtaken by motor vehicles.
Our suggested solution is a shared use path on the south side of Causeway as part of a significant widening of the pedestrian/cycle path and a reduction of the carriageway to 2.2m as per the proposed signed width restriction see figure below.
Large vehicles should be prohibited from using this route, but considering access for refuse collection and emergency vehicles we suggest soft kerbs to allow them unfettered access. See:
Both ends need to be narrowed to reduce speeds and indicate a change of zone such as by use of an island to split the traffic flow and prevent motor vehicles seeking to drive the wrong way up the Causeway. A division that is wide enough to permit contraflow cycling (on the shared space) would narrow the space for motor vehicles, while permitting cyclists to access Church End.
A shared space would allow the unit facing the open, south-facing, area next to Natwest Bank to be used as an open-air café, significantly increasing the appeal of this area.
The metal railings on the corner with Market Square need to be removed. They look unsightly and make it very inconvenient to access Market Square. It would be preferable to reduce the width of the mouth of the Causeway where it meets Market Square, so as to reduce the distance that pedestrians have to cross to access the square and also to reduce motor vehicle speeds exiting the Causeway.
PROPOSAL BOX 15 Manorsfield Road between Causeway and alley to Crown Walk
A segregated cycle path in front of Natwest is possible and already delineated on the path. The barriers should be removed, together with narrowing of the flared entrance to reduce speeds of exiting motor vehicles. Soft kerbs should be used to facilitate cyclists accessing the cycle path from the Causeway.