NEW hi-tech traffic sensors have been installed in Oxford, Didcot and Bicester in a bid to boost cycling and walking.

About 60 of the futuristic-looking sensors have now been installed by Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, following a £200,000 boost from the Department for Transport.

Once all the devices have all been fitted there will be 70 in total.

The council has launched the initiative to retrieve enhanced data on cycling and walking.

Oxford Mail:

County council spokesman Martin Crabtree said: “We want to find out how many people do it, where, when and trends over time.

“Collecting this information will develop an evidence base that helps us to make decisions that will hopefully boost active travel.

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“More cycling and walking is better for people’s health and for the economy because fitter and healthier people take less time off work.”

The council is not revealing the precise location for all the sensors but one has been set up outside County Hall in New Road.

Mr Crabtree added: “The sensors are placed in key locations across the city and in Didcot and Bicester.

Oxford Mail:

“At this stage it is important that the data we gather is not influenced in any way so we are not promoting their locations for the time being.

“The sensors do not collect any personal data at all and only register the modes of transport passing specific points.”

Dr Louise Upton, the city council’s champion for cycling, welcomed the initiative.

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She added: “I believe these sensors can distinguish between cars, vans, pedestrians, cyclists and delivery bikes.

“Anything that gives you baseline data has to be a good thing.

“Once you get that data you can then start to test changes to the road layout.

“We can all have bright ideas but changes to the layout can have unintended consequences half a mile away so you have to take care.

“The information could be used to bring in a bollard or two, or paint lines on the road, with a view to increasing the number of cyclists and pedestrians, and reducing the speed of drivers.”

Oxford Mail:

Cycling campaign group Cyclox has been made aware of the scheme. Chairwoman Dr Alison Hill said at Cyclox’s next public meeting on Tuesday, May 21, Richard Kuziara, Public Health Specialist for the county council, would give a talk on the new technology measuring travel patterns.

The talk will take place at 7.30pm at St Michael at the North Gate church in Cornmarket Street.

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Cyclox members have been told: “Working with the innovation team, Richard has set up data collectors in multiple sites around the city and county. "These will give real-time information about pedestrians, bikes and motor traffic which has huge potential for the city’s transport management.”