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Sunday, June 26, 2022

One thing I’d change about Oxford… Cars

This week Alex Oscroft explores the idea of banning cars in Oxford

Oxford has been around a long time, and it got by for centuries without cars. What has changed to make them necessary now? Why do we give up our precious road space for things that just want to kill us? I would give roads back to the people and their bicycles, improving our mental and physical health and saving countless lives from the torment of trying to cross St Giles on a Friday afternoon.

There would be real benefits to health. How many times have you been caught behind a bus cycling up Cowley Road, unsure of whether to go for the overtake or not, and then, just as you decide to take the plunge, a mini comes the other way at 600 mph and honks because apparently you’re in the way? This exact scenario happens to me every day of the week, and it’s severely stressful. On top of my two essays a week and mountain of reading, none of us has time to be killed in a road accident.

Yes, it does mean you’d have to walk back to college from Bridge rather than get a cab, but think of how fit you’ll be! And a long walk home allows for a much more extended period of social bonding with your peers than a short taxi journey where you’re trying to make awkward small talk with the driver to distract them from your friend vomiting out of the window. We would be better friends and better people without cars.

How many car accidents were there in Oxford in the 17th century? None. Were we still one of the best universities in the world? Yes. I don’t think we would lose anything from outlawing vehicles from the roads, and we’d be saving countless tens of minutes per person by not having to wait to cross the road.

Oxford’s best centuries are behind it, buried beneath screeching rubber and blaring horns and a never-ending stream of Brookes buses. Students are a persecuted people preyed upon by hungry vehicles with no concern for the welfare of us hard-working pupils, and this tyranny must end.

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