Residents, schools and local politicians have reacted with alarm to proposals to close part of Oxford's London Road to cars during the day and reroute traffic around the city.

Oxfordshire County Council wants to improve bus services and road safety in London Road, Headington Road and St Clements Street.

One of its proposals is to add bus lanes and laybys, put in pedestrian crossings, narrow roads and lower speed limits for cars.

The second, more drastic option, involves closing off a section of London Road at the Headington shops to cars during the day, sending heavy morning and evening traffic along other arterial routes.

This would reduce congestion in Headington but critics point out it would only shift the problem to Old Headington, Marston, North Way and Old Road.

Stephen Tall, Headington city councillor, said the proposal was rushed and ill-thought out and criticised the county council for not giving people enough time to make their views known.

He said: "If traffic is not going into Headington, where will it go?"

"The council has not done enough to engage people in what they are doing but it is vital that they do."

Nicholas Newman, who edits the Headington Forum, said both proposals were merely sticking plasters which could damage trade and cause more problems for businesses. "People in Headington feel it is time the new council's political masters approached the area's problems seriously, rather than leaving the burden to the county's already overburdened, but valiant, traffic engineers," she said.

Ed Lehmann, the Right to Ride representative for the Cycle Touring Club, described the proposals as a dog's breakfast which favoured buses over cyclists.

He said: "Cyclists seem very hard done by. The area is just too cramped for one approach. If you put in cycle lanes you create problems for motorists and buses; if you put in bus lanes then cyclists are intimidated."

Susan Mortimer, headteacher of St Michael's Church of England Primary School in Marston Road, warned the lives of residents and her 200 pupils could be seriously affected.

She said: "All this would do is create a bigger problem in another area and it goes no way to solving traffic issues in the 21st century.

"They say there have been near misses involving buses and pedestrians in Headington but we have had those here too.

"There is already a massive volume of traffic passing this school every day and it will only get worse."

A council spokesman said it was still early days, but once the public had given their views a report wouldl be compiled for the council's cabinet in November, before a further period of detailed appraisal and consultation.

He said: "We are trying to address the pressures on this area from the increase in people travelling to new employment sites and the hospitals.

"New building development on the eastern side of Oxford has been significant over the last 10 years and the impact has to be managed."

People now have until Monday to make their views known. Log on at