CYCLING groups have objected to plans for “shared space” in a major redesign of Oxford’s Frideswide Square.

Two groups said plans for cyclist and pedestrian sections of pavements at Oxford train station would lead to irritation between the two groups.

Oxfordshire County Council has started work on the £5.5m redevelopment, to be completed by December 2015.

It will also feature three roundabouts as an alternative to the present system of traffic lights.

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Graham Smith, who represents the south east for the Cyclists’ Touring Club, said: “I object to the lack of clear routing for cycling.

“I predict that the flow of people cycling is such that it will be unacceptable in an undefined shared space.

“I find these proposals quite saddening. After two years or so there has been no improvement in the proposals.”

A submission by the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain said: “Appropriate, inclusive design for cycling, along a road like this one, should involve dedicated cycle provision, separated both from the carriageway and from footways.

“However, this scheme expects people either to cycle in the carriageway – not a realistic or enticing prospect for the vast majority of the population on a road carrying well over 10,000 vehicles a day, including many buses – or, more likely, to cycle on busy footways shared with pedestrians.

“This is plainly bad design, needlessly putting people walking and cycling into conflict, when the two modes could easily be separated, making both walking and cycling more attractive.”

The boulevard-style design will include a large roundabout at the entrance of the station and two mini-roundabouts by the Royal Oxford Hotel.

A series of public open spaces will be created at three sides of the square, which is named after Oxford’s patron saint.

Council spokesman Paul Smith said: “We’ve had numerous discussions with cycle groups throughout the planning of this scheme and listened carefully to concerns.

“One of the most important things we’re trying to achieve is to keep vehicle speeds down to enable the whole place to feel more welcoming for pedestrians and cyclists as well as helping to keep traffic flowing more smoothly than now.

“If we provided cycle lanes on the road, the width of the road overall would increase to the point where we feel that vehicles will start to travel at higher speeds. This would make things less pleasant for pedestrians and cyclists.

“We have heard that there are still people who may not want to cycle on the road in Frideswide Square even if speeds are low and that is why we are proposing that some space in the paved pedestrian area of the square is shared between cyclists and pedestrians.

“We are happy to continue talking to cycling groups.”

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