SIX new “traffic filters” could be introduced in Oxford as part of a plan to reduce pollution and promote public transport and cycling in the city.

Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, says that the measures are “designed to reduce traffic, make bus journeys faster and make walking and cycling safer.”

When traffic filters are operating, private cars are not allowed through certain areas without a permit, while all other vehicles - including buses, coaches, taxis, vans, mopeds and HGVs – have access at all times.

The new traffic filters would be located on St Cross Road, Thames Street, St Clements and Hythe Bridge Street and would operate seven days a week from 7am to 7pm.

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Two more filters would also be located on Marston Ferry Road and Hollow Way and would operate from Monday to Saturday.

The scheme would be enforced using automatic number plate recognition cameras and any driver of a vehicle that goes through the traffic filter and is not exempt or using a permit, would be charged a penalty of £70, reducing to £35 for prompt payment.

The council says that permits will be available for blue badge holders, health workers and care workers.

Residents in Oxford and some areas just outside the city will also be able to apply for a permit to drive through for up to 100 days per year.

The cost of traffic filters is estimated to be £3m and will be largely funded by the bus service improvement plan grant.

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A consultation on the proposals, which are supported by Oxford City Council, will be launched on Monday next week (September 5) and run for four weeks until October 3.

Councillor Duncan Enright, the council’s cabinet member for travel and development strategy, said: “Currently traffic congestion is delaying bus journeys. Cycling is becoming less attractive due to traffic levels. People traveling by taxis get stuck in jams – a costly situation for both passengers and taxi firms.

“Traffic filters will help us achieve a sustainable transport system. Such a system can play a leading role in improving air quality, providing better connectivity particularly for buses, pedestrians and cyclists, and improving the health and wellbeing of our communities. We are committed to listening to you as we make our transport system fit for purpose.”

If approved by the council, the trial will start as an experimental traffic regulation order in the summer next year, for a minimum of six months.

The order will allow the council to test the scheme and make any changes if needed.

A second consultation will run alongside the trial period where people can submit their feedback based on their experience of the traffic filters.

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This story was written by Anna Colivicchi, she joined the team this year and covers health stories for the Oxfordshire papers. 

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