Residents and councillors have welcomed news that improvements will be made to one of Oxford's busiest roads, but say they are concerned that commuter traffic will take priority over local needs.

Consultation starts today into a raft of measures including new bus lanes and better provision for cyclists and pedestrians on the London Road, Headington Hill and St Clement's corridor into the city.

Residents and businesses will have a chance to comment on the county council's initial proposals at three exhibitions later this month, but some councillors say the scheme has not been publicised widely enough and are worried local people will not have enough say.

Stephen Tall, city councillor for Headington, said: "I'm worried it's about getting traffic through, not what's best for the residents.

"My main beef with the consultation is that there's the opportunity to transform the road for the better with the residents."

He added: "When you compare it to the Cowley Road Matters scheme, there's not the same degree of care being taken with the consultation."

As part of the £1.6m redesign of Cowley Road, to be completed in November, a year-long consultation costing more than £90,000 was conducted by East Oxford Action.

As well as a permanent exhibition in a shop, the Cowley Road Matters exercise spoke to 2,000 people and residents took part in design sessions.

Mr Tall suggested that some of the practices of that consultation could be applied elsewhere in the county.

James Gagg, the county council's senior transport planner, said the Cowley Road scheme was a special case, which had been demanded and funded by the Department of Transport.

He added: "The London Road, Headington Road, St Clement's study is being consulted upon in the standard way. It will, however, be comprehensive and the council will very much be in listening mode." The traffic improvements, which could cost several million pounds, spread over a five-year period, could include priority signals for buses, new bus lanes and bus stops, better warning signs near schools, better provision for pedestrians and cyclists, and street scaping in shopping areas.

Local organisations welcomed the plans to rethink the area's roads, and called for as much involvement of local residents and businesses as possible.

Mike Stranks, from Headington Committee for Development Action (HCDA), said: "The volume of traffic on London Road significantly affects Headington's ability to operate as a true community.

"We would welcome as full a consultation as possible."

Other councillors said residents had not been properly informed of the scheme or of dates to see the proposals.

Patrick Murray, city councillor for Barton and Sandhills, said he had been calling residents himself and said even parish councillors were in the dark.

He said: "I'm doing the county council's job for them. It's not good enough."

City councillors in St Clement's were also unaware of the consultation.

Claire Palmer said: "These things do come to our attention as councillors but there has been nothing sent by e-mail. I'm amazed."