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Council hails "excellent" solution to "long and dangerous" diversion as cyclists can wheel bikes through university land during route closure

Local riders had questioned why a "safe" diversion has not been directed through University Parks, with it instead visiting a notoriously dangerous roundabout...

Oxfordshire County Council says it has come to an agreement with the University of Oxford to allow riders to access a diversion across university land while a popular cycle route nearby is shut for bridge refurbishment works. Cyclists in the city had criticised the previous diversion, saying it was "too long and too dangerous", and questioning why the university had not allowed them access to a short and safe route rather than sending them to a notoriously dangerous roundabout.

The access comes with the caveat that cyclists will be allowed only to push their bicycles through the University Parks, via High Bridge, dismounting and walking rather than riding, and can only access the route during school commuting hours (Monday to Friday 7am-9am and 3pm to 5pm).

Outside of the specified times, the council says the university will not permit cyclists "whether dismounted or otherwise". The route will reportedly be marshalled by volunteers during its hours of operation too.

Oxfordshire County Council's cabinet member for highway management hailed the "excellent news", saying it is important "that a solution has been found to make it safer for cyclists, especially schoolchildren, to continue to be able to use their bikes while Marston cycle path is closed for essential repairs".

The University of Oxford's local and global engagement officer said they had "tried to balance" protecting children and vulnerable cyclists' safety while "respecting University Parks' no-cycling rules".

Professor Alexander Betts said: "We are delighted that the university and the councils have been able to work together to find a practical solution. It's important that we support school children and other vulnerable cyclists to be able to get around our city safely.

Marston Bridge closure (Oxfordshire County Council)

[The new diversion: Oxfordshire County Council]

"We've tried to balance this against respecting University Parks' no-cycling rules, which we know are incredibly important for the many pedestrians who use the Parks."

Last month we reported that Oxford cyclists had raised safety concerns about a diversion which directed riders to a notoriously dangerous roundabout while a cycle path in the city is closed for 10 weeks for repairs.

The cycle route between Marston and Oxford city centre was closed from 14 August, Oxfordshire County Council saying it is "carrying out essential refurbishment work" to two bridges.

However, the original diversion sent riders to their destination via the Plain roundabout, a junction where last March a University of Oxford researcher, Dr Ling Felce, was killed when she was run over by an unlicensed, uninsured and drugged lorry driver who was jailed in September for eight years.

The council and campaigners welcomed subsequent safety improvements to the roundabout, however questions about the diversion's routing remained, with a local cycling campaign group calling for the alternative route to instead pass through University Parks, something that has now been agreed between the relevant authorities.

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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19 comments

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eburtthebike | 7 months ago
2 likes

Excellent-ish: as long as you're not a cyclist who doesn't go to school.

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brooksby | 7 months ago
3 likes

Quote:

can only access the route during school commuting hours (Monday to Friday 7am-9am and 3pm to 5pm).

So it can't be used on your commute home anyway, if you're a grown-up...?

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neilmck | 7 months ago
7 likes

"We are delighted that the university and the councils have been able to work together to find a practical solution."
A practical solution for who? The council? Certainly not for cyclists.

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Car Delenda Est | 7 months ago
5 likes

you know you're an out group when a university magnanimously allows you to walk through their land like anyone else..

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brooksby | 7 months ago
8 likes

I had been under the impression that a cyclist who was dismounted and pushing their bike was legally just a pedestrian with an oddly shaped piece of luggage. How is the university managing to distinguish between different kinds of pedestrians?

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essexian replied to brooksby | 7 months ago
9 likes

I would suggest that, as this is private land, the University can make their own access rules up.

To me the question should really be which do we allow private organisations to own land and restrict access to it. We should follow the Scottish and have a freedom to roam law in England which would do away with such nonsense. 

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Rendel Harris replied to essexian | 7 months ago
4 likes

essexian wrote:

I would suggest that, as this is private land, the University can make their own access rules up.

To me the question should really be which do we allow private organisations to own land and restrict access to it. We should follow the Scottish and have a freedom to roam law in England which would do away with such nonsense. 

I suspect even if we did have such a law (which I agree is long overdue) the University would be able to get away with saying that being walled/railed off and capable of being closed in the evening the Parks are a private garden and so exempt. This is why if we ever do get such a law it should be paired with a law of public right-of-way allowing the public to cross private lands that are otherwise exempt, e.g. some stately homes such as Blenheim Palace and Longleat are paid-entry premises but are obliged to maintain public rights of way across the land.

 

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Backladder replied to Rendel Harris | 7 months ago
3 likes

Rendel Harris wrote:

essexian wrote:

I would suggest that, as this is private land, the University can make their own access rules up.

To me the question should really be which do we allow private organisations to own land and restrict access to it. We should follow the Scottish and have a freedom to roam law in England which would do away with such nonsense. 

I suspect even if we did have such a law (which I agree is long overdue) the University would be able to get away with saying that being walled/railed off and capable of being closed in the evening the Parks are a private garden and so exempt. This is why if we ever do get such a law it should be paired with a law of public right-of-way allowing the public to cross private lands that are otherwise exempt, e.g. some stately homes such as Blenheim Palace and Longleat are paid-entry premises but are obliged to maintain public rights of way across the land.

The walled/railed off excuse wouldn't work on the Scottish law but paid entry for more than 90 days a year would, the other thing that would work is if they are the gardens immediately around a residence.

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HoarseMann | 7 months ago
2 likes

The diversion looks to be 3x the distance and you have to walk a third of it. Not great. I suspect many will take their chances on the roundabout instead.

I can understand an advisory dismount over the footbridge, but that path through the park is quite wide and fine for a temporary shared use. It's just not a great surface, sort of hard-pack sandy gravel.

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Secret_squirrel | 7 months ago
1 like

I've cycled through the Plains roundabout several times on a Sunday now.

Even though I can see why it would be dangerous when traffic flow is high, its way in advance of most of the cycle infrastructure in Reading.

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mattw | 7 months ago
5 likes

I can't find the original post.

Black Belt Barrister has done a vid covering the North Yorkshire reversing driver chasing cyclist ran over dog incident. Worth a look.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3LB7Ri7-xg

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Hirsute replied to mattw | 7 months ago
5 likes

A few hundred comments. Only a couple I could see blaming the cyclist. Pretty much despair at the police and asking who the driver is related to.

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Rendel Harris | 7 months ago
17 likes

Oxford being perhaps in the top five universities in the world for research, maybe some of its esteemed professors could offer us a study regarding how many people are injured worldwide each year by other people pushing bicycles?

I mean really, I know some people believe cyclists are the spawn of the devil but only allowed to push through a park four hours a day under the supervision of marshalls? Do they not somewhere down in their silly little paranoid souls realise that they are making themselves look just a bit ridiculous?

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chrisonabike replied to Rendel Harris | 7 months ago
10 likes

Oxford Dons looking ridiculous over some extremely pedantic argument?  Can this be?

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Rendel Harris replied to chrisonabike | 7 months ago
4 likes

chrisonatrike wrote:

Oxford Dons looking ridiculous over some extremely pedantic argument?  Can this be?

Thalassa or Thalatta, the former or the latter?

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Carbon cycle replied to chrisonabike | 7 months ago
2 likes

I think looking ridiculous is probably in the job contract somewhere. Alongside cycling in subfusc, gown and hood mid summer to get to exams, steering with a mortar board in one hand. Only beaten by the one time I saw our philosophy don pull up on his Dutch classic gowned, but having forgotten the key step of getting out of his paisley pyjamas and into his suit. 

The parks date from the 1880s and have always banned new-fangled bicycles.

The university parks only put in the cycle path to Marston in the 1990s, before that it was a pretty dismal muddy track and mostly flooded in winter (my college squash courts were down there, damp enough the ball would slide along the wall rather than rebound cleanly).

 

the plain roundabout ice much better since the recent upgrades to infrastructure. The dangerous but now is long walk street where the cycle path disappears just where the constrictions force conflict with drivers, who are therefore always desperate to overtake just before the blind corner at the morris garage. It will be interesting to see if the traffic filters work when they come in once Botley road is reopened.

 

 

 

 

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chrisonabike replied to Carbon cycle | 7 months ago
1 like

Carbon cycle wrote:

... Only beaten by the one time I saw our philosophy don pull up on his Dutch classic gowned, but having forgotten the key step of getting out of his paisley pyjamas and into his suit. 

This is the kind of "transport for all" attitude I would like to see more of!

Carbon cycle wrote:

The parks date from the 1880s and have always banned new-fangled bicycles.

I hope you took them at their word and turned up - in keeping - on a dicycle, a tricycle, quadricyle or other "sociable" of the era.  Apparently the Queen had one...

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ubercurmudgeon replied to Rendel Harris | 7 months ago
8 likes

You'd think the university that has educated the last five consecutive prime ministers of this country would be able to trust its current students. Would they expect Sunak, Truss, Johnson, May, or Cameron to be so inept and careless as to lose control when pushing a bicycle, sending it careening across the park lawns, possibly smashing into one of the adjacent laboratories, and starting the Great Fire of Oxford?

Actually, they may have a point.

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giff77 | 7 months ago
6 likes

Irony on "So is it fair to expect motorists to get out and push their vehicle round a diversion route".  Irony off 

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