By Gwyn Wright.

A BLUE plaque commemorating the launch of Oxford’s Park and Ride scheme nearly 50 years ago has been unveiled.

Lord Mayor Craig Simmons unveiled the plaque at Redbridge Park and Ride on Abingdon Road in front of around 50 people on Friday morning.

The event was organised by Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board with Oxford Civic Society, which came up with the idea amid celebrations for its 50th anniversary this year.

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Oxford’s Park and Ride scheme was the first of its kind to endure after similar schemes in other cities failed to work.

Peter Headicar, a former reader in transport at Oxford Brookes University and transport adviser to Oxford Civic Society, said at the launch event: “What was special about Park and Ride in Oxford was that it was conceived as part of a radical change in approach towards transport within the city.

Oxford Mail:

“Such measures were novel and controversial.

“The change in behaviour instigated by the Redbridge Park and Ride almost fifty years ago has not yet run its course.”

Oxford Civic Society chairman Ian Green said: “We are proud to have been among the first advocates of Park and Ride as a way of controlling congestion in towns. Campaigning for sustainable transport is still one of our priorities.”

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He said the congestion charge proposed in a joint consultation by Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council called ‘Connecting Oxford’ could prove as innovative as the Park and Ride in 1973, but said new policies must ensure impacts were fair to all.

Oxford Mail:

He added: “Traffic speeds in the city centre are now so slow because of congestion, and higher speeds can only be achieved through improved public transport systems which are not constrained by traffic congestion.’’

A similar plaque was unveiled last Sunday at Headington’s Britannia Inn to mark the foundation of Oxford United.

Until the 1960s Oxford’s councils tried building more roads to solve congestion problems, but every new scheme ended up being rejected.

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Oxford Civic Society said it was influential in changing this policy and lobbied for a Park and Ride as well as new bus lanes in their first publication Let’s Live in Oxford.

The first park and ride was a temporary service set up for Christmas 1968 from Fortes Motor Lodge in north Oxford.

The city now has five park and rides.

Oxford Mail:

Blue plaques commemorate the link between a place and a historical person, event or building.

Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board is a voluntary organisation, unaffiliated to English Heritage which is responsible for more than 900 plaques mainly in London.

In 2018 British Plaque Trust chairman and former Radio 1 DJ Mike Read said at Henley Literature Festival there were 'too many' of the plaques.

He said: “In Basingstoke about eight years ago they suddenly decided they don’t have any plaques, so they decided to put some up. One or two are appropriate, the others maybe not that appropriate.’’