The Future of the A40
A public meeting in Eynsham Village Hall on the County Council plans for an A40 Bus Lane and Park & Ride was jointly organised by the Society, Eynsham Parish Council and EPIC, and held on 12th July. It was well attended and there was quite a lively discussion with Cllr. Yvonne Constance OBE, who as OCC Cabinet Member for Environment is responsible for the project, and Raymond Cheung who is responsible for delivering it. The Society's thanks are due to Cllr. Gordon Beach (Eynsham Parish Council) for chairing the meeting, and to Cllr. Charles Mathew (OCC) for joining the panel.
An unedited audio recording of the meeting is available here (approximately 2 hours - 162Mb)
The planning application (R3.0057/19) for this project is here and comments must be in by noon on Monday 15th July. This leaves very little time, given the large amount of material in the application and the date of the meeting, and the Society will be asking for an extension to the deadline. It is vital that as many people as possible write individually, as the Society's own submission will carry only the same weight as a single personal one.
You should try to read at least some of the documentation accompanying the application, in particular the 28-page Design and Access Statement which shows a number of differences from the material at the consultation exhibitions:
The eastbound link road to Peartree has been omitted.
The dual carriageway extension to the P&R has been omitted.
The improved north-side cycle path will be diverted over a separate bridge at Cassington bridges so that the bus lane can continue uninterrupted (but it will still terminate in the middle of nowhere at Duke's Cut). It is unclear whether the south-side cycle path will remain.
The P&R is now 850 spaces, rather than the 500 or 1000 formerly mooted.
The BikeSafe cycle lane to Oxford via Farmoor, which would have provided an alternative cycle commuter route , has been omitted.
Points you may wish to include (please condense into your own words!) are:
The plans pre-date the decision by WODC to build a 3,200 new houses at Eynsham (including a so-called "Garden Village" - in reality an Oxford dormitory) 2,750 of which are to meet its imposed share of Oxford's alleged unmet housing need (itself a figure unsupported by evidence). This will massively increase the commuter load from Eynsham (currently 2000 houses), in addition to that from the new housing being built at Witney and further west. It is impossible to believe that a bus lane to Duke's Cut will mitigate this, even if (as stated at the meeting) up to 18 buses per hour can be run.
The bus lane as it stands will have negligible impact on A40 congestion. Much of the traffic is commercial through traffic, and most of the cars are not going into the centre of Oxford, where City Council policy is to make parking difficult and expensive. This is borne out by the relative queue lengths in the separate lanes at at the remodelled Wolvercote roundabout. Nobody is going to drive into central Oxford if there is an affordable and reliable alternative.
The bus lane (and P&R) will not achieve any real modal shift away from private car use. This is because most of the commuter traffic is going to the major employment centres in Headington (hospitals, Oxford Brookes, Oxford University Old Road Campus) and Cowley (BMW). Bus journeys to these destinations via the city centre are currently unrealistic (e.g. 80+ minutes to the Churchill Hospital, and a bus lane terminating at Duke's Cut will not make the A40 route a credible alternative without a continuing bus lane the rest of the way, because buses will simply be stuck in the heavy rush-hour congestion on Northway.
The choice of Eynsham for the Park and Ride is bizarre - it would make far more sense to build it on the outskirts of Witney or near the existing end of the dual carriageway. Eynsham commuters (including those in the new housing) will simply leave their cars at home, provided that the A40 buses are easily accessible from all parts of the village, which in practice means that some of them must divert through the village. (Failure to ensure this will lead to the absurd scenario where the village streets are clogged by local commuters making a highly-polluting journey of a mile or less to the P&R). Witney commuters will have to endure 6 mile of congestion before reaching the P&R and will probably conclude that it is not worth switch modes at that point. Even if the proposed dual carriageway extension is built at some point (and it is not included in this application) it will still be congested and will be a massive waste of taxpayers' money, which would be much better spent on extending the bus lane to Witney. The most likely group of users are commuters from villages north and south of the A40 with no bus service. The latter already use Eynsham as an informal P&R and may continue to do so if there is a queue for the P&R; alternatively they will rat-run through the village because the eastern bypass is clogged solid in the morning peak period.
The scope for modal shift to cycling for Oxford commuters is very limited. Few cyclists will tackle the long journeys (7 miles to the city centre, 10 to Headington, 11-12 to Cowley), although e-bikes extend the manageable range. Cycling in heavy rain is unpleasant, and in icy weather is highly dangerous as the paths are never gritted and water dripping from overhanging vegetation creates black ice.
Please e-mail the Secretary ASAP if you need any further advice.