Summer living is not so easy in certain streets...

Niall Strawson

Niall Strawson

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by

Summertime and the living is easy… or so the song goes. Well summertime is also tourist season here in Oxford. Whilst I love the hum drum, the happy families and the hordes of selfies being taken across the city, there is a darker side to this influx.

The dark side manifests in whole new set of access issues for little ol’ Niall going from A to B. Today I am going to turn my attention to George Street and the fight for the ever so lucrative restaurant trade. When visiting Oxford everyone arrives at Gloucester Green or the railway station and toddles up George Street to reach the sites. This has turned George Street into A board hell – an A board is one of those advertisements that sit on the pavement advertising meal deals and menus etc. Why does this bother me so much?

Well let me tell you. Pavements generally are cambered, this means they have a slight slope to allow water to drain off. You wouldn’t notice it much as a walker but any pram user will be more than happy to enlighten you. It often means I push with one hand to compensate for the roll into the road, which means taking a specific route along the pavements to avoid the steepest camber. Make that narrower and you have less choice and more effort to put in. Throw in a crowd of people pausing or looking up at gargoyles, huddling around these boards and basically I am forced out into the road.

I have been trying to think of an equivalent? It would be a bit like someone putting wheelie bins all over the road if you were driving in a straight line. Add to that loads of cyclists that are not paying attention and maybe a strong side wind blowing you off course. Doesn’t sound fun right? Hence why I take to the road and take my chances... Thank God for cycle lanes.

It also not just us wheelchair users that suffer. Picture a new mother with her pram but more importantly the visually impaired. Imagine having no or limited sight and constantly coming across new obstacles on a route that you know is normally clutter free?

It would drive me crazy and these guys don’t have the option of hitting the road. So what should be a simple walk in straight line becomes a chicane fuelled nightmare. Of course to add to the misery it’s not just one type of A board so you are constantly trying to guess what this mystery object is.

I don’t resent businesses advertising and we should all be benefitting from the influx of tourists but not at the cost to those that already struggle to get around. If you know anyone connected or work in one of these places, have a word with the manager, think of a solution that doesn’t clog the pavements and then we can all share the streets and eats of Oxford and get back to easy summer living.

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Comments (9)

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11:38am Wed 9 Jul 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

Ideally Hythe Bridge Street and George Street would form a "Pedestrian Boulevard" running from the Railway Station to the city centre.

No chance of it being considered until Frideswide Square is redeveloped though...
Ideally Hythe Bridge Street and George Street would form a "Pedestrian Boulevard" running from the Railway Station to the city centre. No chance of it being considered until Frideswide Square is redeveloped though... Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: -1

12:19pm Wed 9 Jul 14

King Joke says...

Hmm, and stuff the high volumes of East-West through traffic along the busy bus route on Park End St? No thanks.
Hmm, and stuff the high volumes of East-West through traffic along the busy bus route on Park End St? No thanks. King Joke
  • Score: 0

12:21pm Wed 9 Jul 14

King Joke says...

Point of style - they are A-boards not A boards.
Point of style - they are A-boards not A boards. King Joke
  • Score: 0

12:53pm Wed 9 Jul 14

Oxonian says...

Andrew:Oxford wrote:
Ideally Hythe Bridge Street and George Street would form a "Pedestrian Boulevard" running from the Railway Station to the city centre.

No chance of it being considered until Frideswide Square is redeveloped though...
Closing these streets to traffic would hinder the disabled as much as crowded pavements.

Disabled people often need to be driven by car or taxi to reach shops in these streets.

Why can't the Council prohibit A-boards from being put on pavements?
[quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: Ideally Hythe Bridge Street and George Street would form a "Pedestrian Boulevard" running from the Railway Station to the city centre. No chance of it being considered until Frideswide Square is redeveloped though...[/p][/quote]Closing these streets to traffic would hinder the disabled as much as crowded pavements. Disabled people often need to be driven by car or taxi to reach shops in these streets. Why can't the Council prohibit A-boards from being put on pavements? Oxonian
  • Score: 0

1:04pm Wed 9 Jul 14

King Joke says...

People with impairments need access, but nobody needs all streets open to traffic. How to those with reduced mobiliity reach shops on Cornmarket or within the Covered Market?
People with impairments need access, but nobody needs all streets open to traffic. How to those with reduced mobiliity reach shops on Cornmarket or within the Covered Market? King Joke
  • Score: 1

4:52pm Wed 9 Jul 14

Oxonian says...

King Joke wrote:
People with impairments need access, but nobody needs all streets open to traffic. How to those with reduced mobiliity reach shops on Cornmarket or within the Covered Market?
Some disabled people can't reach closed areas like Cornmarket or the Covered Market. As a somewhat disabled person myself, I find it hard to walk the length of Cornmarket.

It would be nice if people thought of the disabled and the elderly when they advocated closing streets.
[quote][p][bold]King Joke[/bold] wrote: People with impairments need access, but nobody needs all streets open to traffic. How to those with reduced mobiliity reach shops on Cornmarket or within the Covered Market?[/p][/quote]Some disabled people can't reach closed areas like Cornmarket or the Covered Market. As a somewhat disabled person myself, I find it hard to walk the length of Cornmarket. It would be nice if people thought of the disabled and the elderly when they advocated closing streets. Oxonian
  • Score: -1

5:29pm Wed 9 Jul 14

King Joke says...

You'd only ever have to walk half the length of Cornmarket, as both Carfax and St Michael's St are fully accessible to vehicles, and hence fully accessible to vehicles dropping off people with reduced mobility. The whole length of New Inn Hall St has blue badge parking down one side.

We should always put those with reduced mobility at the heart of city centre plans. THere is for instance a serious problem with closing Queen St and George St completely given the problems it will give bus passengers - many PRM don't have a car and rely on buses to access the city centre.

Everybody however would be disadvantaged by full access to all vehicles in all city centre streets. Can you imagine what Ship St and Turl St would be like if fully parked up and being used as cross-city and cross-county thoroughfares? You wouldn't want to visit even if you could Oxonian!
You'd only ever have to walk half the length of Cornmarket, as both Carfax and St Michael's St are fully accessible to vehicles, and hence fully accessible to vehicles dropping off people with reduced mobility. The whole length of New Inn Hall St has blue badge parking down one side. We should always put those with reduced mobility at the heart of city centre plans. THere is for instance a serious problem with closing Queen St and George St completely given the problems it will give bus passengers - many PRM don't have a car and rely on buses to access the city centre. Everybody however would be disadvantaged by full access to all vehicles in all city centre streets. Can you imagine what Ship St and Turl St would be like if fully parked up and being used as cross-city and cross-county thoroughfares? You wouldn't want to visit even if you could Oxonian! King Joke
  • Score: -1

6:23pm Wed 9 Jul 14

Oxonian says...

I can't see any problem with streets like Turl Street and Ship Street being open, at least
one-way. No parking would be allowed, except for briefly dropping off passengers or things, so the streets would not be "parked up" as you suggest.

What are streets for? They were designed to allow people to reach shops or other buildings, so only very good reasons should exist for shutting them or limiting access to them.
I can't see any problem with streets like Turl Street and Ship Street being open, at least one-way. No parking would be allowed, except for briefly dropping off passengers or things, so the streets would not be "parked up" as you suggest. What are streets for? They were designed to allow people to reach shops or other buildings, so only very good reasons should exist for shutting them or limiting access to them. Oxonian
  • Score: 0

8:10pm Wed 9 Jul 14

King Joke says...

The reason they are not open to through traffic is that they would be chocked with slow-moving vehicles for 8-10 hours a day. This is not an inviting prospect, and would hamper the operation of transport that many, able-bodied and otherwise, rely on. Actually they are open for access - you are free to drive up them any time you like - and rightly so to allow people and business, who need access, to have it.
The reason they are not open to through traffic is that they would be chocked with slow-moving vehicles for 8-10 hours a day. This is not an inviting prospect, and would hamper the operation of transport that many, able-bodied and otherwise, rely on. Actually they are open for access - you are free to drive up them any time you like - and rightly so to allow people and business, who need access, to have it. King Joke
  • Score: 0

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