The London Road level crossing in Bicester is on its way to be closed most of the time when the next phase of East West Rail (EWR) from Bicester to Bletchley and beyond becomes active. The company responsible for the development of the line therefore wants to find alternatives to the level crossing. So far EWR have considered a number of options, only one of which focuses on pedestrians, cyclists, mobility scooters and all the other plethora of non motorised traffic that crosses the railway at present. The sole option proposed for pedestrians and cyclists is a footbridge like that next to Garth Park (pictured below)
Best they can offer?
We feel this proposal from EWR, if implemented, would prove to be hugely problematic to foot and cycle access and simply block many elderly and less mobile residents from accessing the town centre. Multiple switchbacks and a height gain equivalent of 3 storeys is the opposite of accessible but there could be a better way.
Viable, sustainable and inclusive
Inspired by the multitude of active travel underpasses used in other countries and by considering the needs of all ages and abilities of walking, cycling and scooting across the railway we put together a solution which prioritises exactly those residents overlooked by EWR and captures aspects ignored in the other proposed options. By integrating bus, car, taxi access with simple and easy underpass for residents this is a solution that delivers for Bicester. Below is a birds eye view of the concept in the context of the existing buildings and infrastructure.
When viewed from the Langford/East side of the railway (see below) the gentle slope and modest depth of the underpass can be seen next to an extended parking area and bus turning area. The path segregates pedestrians from cyclists to avoid conflict and allow both to proceed at their own pace.
On the town side the path exits the wide and airy underpass and rises into the existing bar parking avoiding impacting the existing heritage buildings at the current level crossing. From here it is a short walk cycle or scoot to Market Square and beyond.
We are calling on EWR and the authorities to consider a serious pedestrian/cyclist option for the London Road Level crossing taking account of the obvious drawbacks of their budget footbridge option and the clear benefits of the vision we have outlined. The people of Bicester deserve it.