The council’s decision to install a series of bus lanes across Oxford has been criticised by a retail leader who believes it will take a toll on the city’s trade.
Five new camera-enforced bus gates, similar to the one operating in High Street, will be installed by city and county councils. The plan is part of a scheme called ‘Connecting Oxford’ which aims to reduce congestion in the city.
The council has said of ‘Connecting Oxford’: “The plans would make a real improvement to journey times for commuters and quality of life for residents, including improved air quality, by reducing the number of cars travelling into and around the city.”
The gates will lead to ordinary traffic being restricted during the day, driving Rox spokesman Graham Jones to make a statement about the harm that may be caused to the city’s trade.
Jones said: “The high street is suffering and the bus gate in Worcester Street would stop people travelling from north Oxford to West Oxford – it could put some shoppers off and should be reviewed.
“Some shoppers are already saying it’s easier to go and shop in Milton Keynes – Boswells has announced it is to close and council leaders need to take a careful look at this.”
The Wolvercote resident expressed specific grievances over plans for a new bus gate in Marston Ferry Road, maintaining that this made ‘no sense whatsoever’.
He added: “Marston Ferry Road is an important link road to the Churchill, the John Radcliffe and other hospital facilities and not all residents are able to get a bus.
“There are lots of schools in the area and lots of teachers don’t live in Oxford. “We all want to see less congestion in the city and a prosperous city.”
Jones’ argument against the Marston Ferry Road bus lane is that it will lead to more traffic on the A40. He also contends that putting a new bus gate on Worcester Street would cause more traffic on the A34.
Rox, an organisation which campaigns on behalf of Oxford businesses, commented on Connecting Oxford, saying: “Just how would these new gates be policed?
“It seems that a vast number of vehicles both commercial and private would have to be exempt.
“Apart from the needs of delivery and service vehicles already mentioned, what about the need to access the many schools and private residences either side of the gates?”
On Rox’s website they pledge to “campaign for a properly balanced transport policy within the city and a more welcoming approach to car-borne visitors.”