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Frideswide Square revamp plans 'a deathtrap' warn cyclists
CYCLISTS last night warned Oxford’s Frides-wide Square would become a death trap if new plans go ahead.
Neither of the two final options for the congested square’s revamp include any cycle lanes.
Cycle campaign group Cyclox last night branded the plans “shocking” and “dangerous”.
Cyclox member Dan Levy said: “This is a missed opportunity to create a world-class entry to the city.
“It is Cyclox’s analysis that either layout for Frideswide Square set out by the council will lead to unacceptable conflict between road users, and will almost certainly lead to injury and death to cyclists.”
Two possible options are being presented by Oxfordshire County Council, named the Boulevard and the Oval. Both include three small roundabouts and a one-way system around the square.
The current two lanes of traffic through the square would be reduced to one, with roundabouts keeping the traffic flowing.
Mr Levy warned roundabouts like the ones planned were more dangerous for cyclists than other forms of junction.
He said: “Roundabouts are especially difficult for less experienced and assertive cyclists. They may choose to stick to the left-hand side of the lane, even when intending to travel right.”
The group also said it was concerned about buses sweeping left from Botley Road into the railway station, plus flared entry and exits, which it claimed would lead to dangerous overtaking.
An estimated 32,000 vehicles travel through the square each day.
This is expected to remain roughly the same in coming years.
It is hoped work on the square could begin as early as next year, costing about £3.7m.
Cyclox vice-chairman Richard Mann said: “We were shocked when we saw the plans. We talked to the council a year ago about how the designs could be improved and it’s been ignored.
“They don’t appear to have thought through how they would make the square safer for cycling at all.
“And if we want to make cycling the normal mode of transport in Oxford, that’s not good enough.”
His daughter Rosamund da Sousa, seven, added: “I love cycling, and I wish I could cycle safely into town.”
Oxford City Council this month announced it would spend £300,000 over four years to improve cycling facilities in the city, hoping to get people making one in every four journeys by bicycle.
Oxfordshire County Council cabinet member for transport Rodney Rose said the idea behind the square was to create a “shared space” scheme, where everyone used the road equally, negating the need for cycle lanes.
He said: “We have spent a long time coming up with these plans and we have looked at a lot of options.
“The idea is to keep the traffic flowing slowly but steadily. This system works well in other cities in the UK and it will work well here.”
He added: “I think my own preference right now is just to see a JCB on the site. We need to get started.”
The county council finished its consultation on the plans on Friday. The options will be discussed by the cabinet in March.