A SCHEME to transform one of Oxford’s busiest roundabouts has been revealed.
The £835,000 project will see all lanes approaching and leaving The Plain roundabout in East Oxford narrowed in an attempt to slow traffic and make conditions more cyclist-friendly.
Pavements surrounding the roundabout, which links Oxford city centre and the arterial routes of St Clement’s Street, Cowley Road and Iffley Road plus Cowley Place, will be widened.
Instead of two lanes approaching The Plain from the city, it would be reduced to a single lane. The roundabout would also be raised with ramps.
The proposals have been cautiously backed by cycling pressure group Cyclox and Sustrans.
Some 1,000 buses use the roundabout each day, and roughly 4,700 cyclists – a figure the county council hopes to raise by 20 per cent to about 5,700.
Cyclox vice chairman Richard Mann, above, said the organisation would have preferred a design with a cycle track around the outside, but appreciated limitations of space – and pointed out there was still work to be done to finalise the plans.
He said: “There is a risk with any change to a big junction like the Plain it will just jam up the traffic.
“If they are able to do what they propose, a big speed reduction, everything tightened up and everything going at bicycle speed, it would work great.”
There have been 29 recorded accidents involving injuries to cyclists in the past five years, more than anywhere else in the city. But minor collisions are likely to have gone unreported.
Tim Harding, manager of Cowley Road bike shop Cycloanalysts, regularly heard from customers who had been involved in accidents there.
He said: “People definitely are nervous and I think this would be good for bikes.
“Half the battle is cyclists aren’t entirely sure what they are meant to be doing so making it a little clearer should be the main thing.”
The Alliance of British Drivers said it would oppose any scheme to narrow roads without very good reason and said other alternatives such as adding traffic lights to give priority to cyclists, or putting a lane for cyclists on the outside of the roundabout, should be considered.
Spokesman Roger Lawson said: “What is being proposed would impact motorists and would be prejudicial to them and would probably be in the interests of cyclists but what evidence is there it would improve safety for cyclists?”
Oxfordshire County Council deputy leader Rodney Rose said he did not believe the proposals would have a negative impact on traffic flow.
He said: “It is only controversial in the sense that we give up road space for cycle space, which is what we have got to do in areas that have a greater concentration of cyclists.
“I don’t think it’s controversial in terms of what we are planning to do because I think it will work.”
Hugh Jaeger, of Bus Users UK Oxford, raised concerns that any narrowing of the roundabout could make it impossible for buses to negotiate the turn.
He said: “If you have expensively widened the pavements and narrowed the roundabout and then you find you have caused tailbacks all the way to Longwall Street. It could be expensive to undo that.”
Oxfordshire County Council is seeking £835,000 from the Department for Transport under its Cycle City Ambition Grant.
If funding was agreed, work would start in November 2014 and be complete by April 2015.
A second phase of works, including improvements to the roads approaching the roundabout, would then follow.