CAMPAIGNERS are urging Oxford residents to get behind ‘transformative’ plans for the city’s streets ahead of a key funding bid.

The Coalition for Healthy Streets and Active Travel (CoHSAT) is displaying its vision for a ‘Better Oxford’ at its pop-up shop in Ship Street, off Cornmarket Street, until Saturday.

The group has ‘re-imagined’ key locations including Broad Street, St Giles and Cowley Road with new features including greater cycling provision, pedestrianisation and bus gates.

It comes as Oxfordshire County Council prepares to bid for tranche two of the government’s emergency active travel fund (EATF), of which it has provisionally been allocated £2.38m.

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CoHSAT wants the council to submit “bold and ambitious” proposals for the county and co-chair Brenda Boardman called on residents to make their voices heard.

“These are transformative and inspirational ideas,” she said.

“Now is the time to let the councillors know your views.

“We have to ask them to do something really positive, bold, imaginative and good for Oxford.”

She added: “So far, the majority of people that have come into the shop have been extremely positive – if anything they’ve been telling us we’re not bold enough."

The group has joined forces with Build Oxford Back Better, one branch of a national campaign calling for a coronavirus recovery plan that tackles inequality and climate change.

Oxford Mail:

Hythe Bridge Street Picture: CoHSAT

Proposals are centred on the core aim of improving public transport, walking and cycling and tackling congestion, with suggestions including the long-mooted idea to pedestrianise parts of St Giles.

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CoHSAT has also revealed plans to pedestrianise Walton Street in Jericho, as well as widening the pavements on routes including Hythe Bridge Street and Cowley Road, so bars, cafes and restaurants can set up outdoor seating.

Oxford Mail:

St Giles Picture: CoHSAT

One Temple Cowley resident, who asked to remain anonymous, called the proposals ‘fantastic’ during a visit to the pop-up shop today.

She added: “I’ve been a cyclist all of my adult life and I’d really like to see a balancing up of facilities for cyclists and car drivers. I think this is long overdue.

“I hope our politicians are brave enough to take this forward.”

With vehicle use still down between 10 and 20 per cent across the country compared to before lockdown, campaigners say there is no better time to make sweeping changes.

Read also: Details of the emergency cycling improvements for Oxfordshire

Scott Urban, director of Oxfordshire Liveable Streets, another group involved in the proposals, feels this cannot come soon enough.

He said: “It would catch us up to the Netherlands in the 1980s – for the UK it’s revolutionary, but we should have been doing this a long time ago.

“When you visit a city like Oxford, you expect to be able to enjoy time outdoors in the city centre.

“But when you do come here you find the city centre’s a parking lot.

Oxford Mail:

“As much of this as possible should be pushed into tranche two – why wait?

“The best time to do these things is when traffic levels are low. It’s a golden opportunity.”

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The county council has already announced plans for two temporary bus gates in the city centre and a Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) in East Oxford to reduce traffic, with both set to be implemented next month.

Meanwhile, Oxford City Council has temporarily pedestrianised part of St Michael’s Street to enable outdoor dining and enable businesses in the hospitality industry to operate with distancing.

Campaigners are also calling for proposals to add five further bus gates to be brought forward as part of the councils’ joint Connecting Oxford scheme to improve transport in the city.

CoHSAT has submitted its own proposals for the second tranche of EATF funding, including measures for the city and surrounding towns.

The council only received half of the £600,000 it was initially allocated in the first section earlier this month and must present its next bid by August 7.

Read also: New bus gates will 'ban motorists from driving through city centre'

Spokesperson Jonathan Sayers said the council was putting forward a ‘bold submission’ to enable a ‘series of hard-hitting measures to address a safe economic recovery of the county’.

He added: “The county notes the views of the pressure groups in question as well as the spectrum of views of residents across Oxfordshire.

“The county council’s commitment to environmentally sustainable travel goes well beyond the active travel grant.

“The county council indeed puts environmental considerations at the forefront of all its planning.

“Further details on the proposed bus gates and the allocation of spending on the active travel grant will be announced shortly.”