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New pedestrian path to be built in University Parks

A series of “near misses” between delivery vehicles and pedestrians at the South Parks Road entrance to University Parks has highlighted the importance of the recent proposal for a new pedestrian path alongside the park. The existing route is currently the only vehicle entrance to the park and a busy thoroughfare for joggers, families, dog walkers and other pedestrians, causing much concern over potential accidents. The use of headphones and mobile phones by walkers and runners has further complicated the situation at the busy entrance. 

Aware that vehicles cannot be relocated, Oxford City Council has submitted a plan for a new pedestrian path running between the parks and the University Science Area, offering a direct, landscaped route for residents to use safely instead of crossing the South Parks Road entrance, “mitigat[ing]” the risk of accidents in the area. The path’s construction would not include digging and would avoid disrupting nearby tree roots. University Parks Superintendent Dr Carolyn Jenkins has stressed that although risk cannot be eliminated and the South Park entrance will remain open to the public, this plan will greatly increase the safety of pedestrians by offering traffic an alternative route.  

University Parks Management told Cherwell: “The new pedestrian path will be created in summer 2024 to offer an alternative to the current shared vehicle and pedestrian route from the South Lodge entrance. It allows pedestrians to walk behind the mixed border instead of on the roadway. This should improve their experience of walking through the Parks, providing a more direct, vehicle-free route from South Parks Road heading north before joining Thorn Walk again at the junction with South Walk.” 

Commenting on the “tricky corner,” City Councillor Anna Railton expressed her support of any proposal which “reduces conflict between pedestrians and vehicles.” The recent “near misses” have further drawn attention to the necessity of action. 

In response to the new pedestrian path some residents have returned to the popular request for dropping the bike ban within the parks. However, the University has made clear their “firm” stance that in order to ensure the parks are “a peaceful space for everyone to enjoy” cycling will not be allowed, even after the temporary lift of the ban in 2023. Instead, they hope this new path, where dogs off-lead, children, and joggers can move about freely with peace of mind, will increase the overall safety of the area.

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