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Towards zero carbon travel – Sustainable transport in Oxfordshire

Oxford Friends of the Earth is a thriving and effective local group that has been active for over 40 years. Our purpose is to work together to promote a healthy and sustainable environment

Transport is the UK’s largest source of carbon emissions, accounting for about a third of our total carbon output. It is the only sector to have made no meaningful contribution to emission reductions to date. Almost two thirds of road transport emissions are from cars. Breathing motor traffic pollution leads to the premature deaths of around 8,400 people every year in the UK, and is linked to one in five childhood asthma cases.

OxFoE’s work includes:

  • Action towards a sustainable transport policy for Oxfordshire
  • Work with COHSAT, the Coalition for Healthy Streets and Active Transport – other members include Cyclox and Oxfordshire Liveable Streets
  • Opposing the proposed Oxford – Cambridge Expressway  – in 2018 we set up the No Expressway Alliance.  While the Expressway has been cancelled – an important victory! – we continue to be vigilant on new roads and over-development. We are supporting the work of the No Expressway Group, who are focusing now on the ‘Oxford-Cambridge Arc’

Work on transport issues is moving forward at three speeds. There is immediate work around plans to make Oxford and other towns safer places to walk and cycle, which includes the plans for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods – see the work by  Oxfordshire Liveable Streets https://oxlivsts.org.uk/

Secondly there are the existing plans for the Zero Emission Zone and the ‘Connecting Oxford’ which would limit private car travel through the city. We have stressed that talk about delaying these measures due to the current crisis is counter-productive.

Finally there is the need for longer-term change and for a radical County transport plan. Our key points are below. Public transport may be low on the agenda right now. But any realistic hope of getting to zero carbon fast enough to tackle the climate crisis will need a major shift to trains and buses for longer journeys. We need to push for investment now in better rail services and a local ‘Metrorail’ service with new stations, along with much more support for safer walking and cycling.

Transport and planning – speaking up for a clean transport system!

Oxfordshire County Council are consulting on their new ‘Local Transport and Connectivity Plan (LTCP)’. It is vital that this plan puts moves to zero carbon at the centre of its’ strategy. This started in 2020 and there will be further work in 221. Our main aim is clear:

The LTCP must set out, from the start, a clear route to delivering a zero carbon transport system as part of the UK’s legal commitment to creating a ‘Net Zero’ society. All proposed council investment on transport must be assessed and agreed on the basis that it contributes to this goal.

April 2021 update: 

The County recently produced a Vision document for the LTCP.  This showed some signs of progress on the initial document but there is still a real need for a stronger approach. Our response document is here.

Our specific points for the LTCP are:

  1. An ambitious rail development strategy to create the space for both long distance travel and a ‘Metrorail’ system for the county. A first priority must be investment in improving rail network capacity between Didcot and Oxford.
  2. Bus travel to be free for under 30s (as it is for older people). We also seek a consultation on the case for all local bus travel to be free (as it is in a growing number of cities).
  3. High quality local cycling and walking facilities – with the construction of networks of segregated cycleways in urban areas, and cycle routes connecting larger towns.
  4. A Local Transport Authority for the county as the best way to deliver an integrated system.
  5. A specific consultation on the future of rural transport in Oxfordshire.
  6. A clear strategy to reduce congestion in urban areas that may involve road pricing or congestion charges.

There is more information here:

  1. Invest now in better rail services and a local ‘Metrorail’ service with new stations

A commuter focused rail service for the county with will be a key way to reduce traffic especially on the A34. This requires major investment in improving the rail network between Didcot and Oxford as a first step. Our councils and government must prioritise this.

Anyone who travels in the north-south Bicester – Oxford – Didcot corridor (along the A34) could use the rail system much more if we have a frequent commuter ‘metro-rail’ service. Capacity and connectivity must be improved and the County must push for national investment in this.

 

 

  1.  An improved and coordinated county-wide bus service

Bus travel can be speeded up by measures to cut delays by cutting congestion. New traffic management schemes will help provide better bus services.

We need an Oxfordshire Transport Authority for the county (similar to Transport for London) as the best way to deliver an integrated system which provides good access to all major settlements in the county.

Bus travel should be free for under 30s (as it is for older people). We ask for consultation on the case for all local bus travel to be free (as it is in a growing number of cities across the world), paid for in part by road pricing or congestion charges.

  1.  High quality local cycling and walking facilities

If people are to cycle more we need proper networks of segregated cycleways in urban areas, and cycle routes connecting larger towns. These will include ‘cycle streets’ and rural ‘greenways’.

  1.  Transport and cleaner air

Transport is the major source of air pollution in the county. 

Electrification of our transport system is an agreed national target. We should look to see this happen as fast as possible to cut pollution in Oxfordshire. This will require rapid increases in electric charging systems. Councils and other public bodies should take a lead to ensure that all their vehicles to are zero-emission.

 

If you would like to feed in to the discussions, email: climate@oxfoe.co.uk with ‘transport plan’ in the subject line.