Cyclox chairwoman Dr Alison Hill looks at the implications of the removal of the Walton Street barrier for cyclists and pedestrians

At Oxfordshire County Council’s Transport Decisions meeting on April 29, Councillor Yvonne Constance ruled that the barriers at the south end of Walton should be removed when the traffic regulation order times out on May 18, and that there should be no alternative scheme in place to restrict traffic along Walton Street and Kingston Road.

After 18 months of promises of a better Jericho, her recommendation was to do nothing.

While the barrier was in place, the ability to walk and cycle safely on Kingston Road and Walton St and to enjoy clean air and minimal traffic noise was joyful. Now we will see a return to what the roads were like before. Congested, polluted, noisy, unsafe.

Cyclox, along with our active travel partners, has been a whole-hearted supporter of low traffic neighbourhoods across the city, knowing they make for liveable neighbourhoods, which, once the invariable opposition has blown through, have been welcomed by residents and businesses.

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We have participated in all the consultations on LTNs. We have helped our members resident in areas where consultations and surveys were undertaken to contribute their views and ideas. We know that there is considerable, if quiet, community support for LTNs.

The surveys and petitions about the Jericho LTN have demonstrated that support:

In the pre-barrier consultation back in 2019, 63% of respondents supported the closure.

In the subsequent six-month consultation, 51% of respondents expressed support, while only 43% objected.

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In the consultation conducted in February, while only 27% were in favour of the proposals, this was because people wanted more traffic restrictions, not less. In the comments, 35% asked for a full implementation of the LTN, 20% said the scheme doesn’t go far enough, and 13% said they wanted to keep the barrier closed.

A traffic-free Walton Street imagined Picture provided by Cyclox

A traffic-free Walton Street imagined Picture provided by Cyclox

This compares to only 8% who said they wanted no traffic restrictions at all.

All the local councillors representing the residents of Jericho and Walton Manor want traffic restrictions too. These councillors know their communities and at the meeting expressed their bewilderment at the recommendation to do nothing.

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Councillor Constance herself said in the meeting last August, that “The most important thing was to recognise that everyone wanted less traffic”.

All this shows that every time the council consulted on what the public wants, there has been a clear majority in favour of restricting traffic. Even Jericho Connections, a group that has not supported the LTN, accepts that some traffic restrictions are the way forward.

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So it is inexplicable why the council at the 11th hour reneged on earlier promises and presented a proposal that was so poor that only a minority were prepared to accept it. This decision backtracks on the council’s own commitments to active travel, improving air quality and tackling the climate emergency.

The Walton Street barrier

The Walton Street barrier

This can’t be the end of the road for a better Jericho.

Awareness of the value of low traffic neighbourhoods has never been higher, and nor has demand. We won’t give up campaigning.

The time will come when we will be able to enjoy a traffic-free Walton Street.