Proposals to introduce six trial traffic filters, designed to reduce traffic, make bus journeys faster and make walking and cycling safer, will be considered by Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet on 29 November. The county council has published changes to its original proposals based on feedback from public consultation and engagement and results from further traffic analysis.
Since February 2022, the county council, in partnership with Oxford City Council, has engaged with local businesses, organisations and community groups including bus operators, hospitals, schools and universities and refined its proposals. Following the feedback received from partners, the council put forward plans to introduce the traffic filters as an experimental traffic regulation order (ETRO), to test the scheme and make changes if needed, before making a long-term decision on the trial.
The county council carried out a public consultation to help it better understand the impacts of the proposals between 5 September and 13 October, and received 5,700 responses to the public consultation, with another 485 emails from members of the public and organisations. These responses were analysed by an independent research company, and following the feedback, some key changes to the proposals are being recommended, including: Traffic filters on some routes initially operating at peak times on Monday to Saturday only, to confirm whether part-time filters at these locations achieve the aims of the scheme; residents of certain areas will be able to apply for day passes to drive through the filters for up to 100 days per year, and expanding resident day passes to include 25 day passes per person per year for residents of Oxfordshire outside the Oxford permit area; short-term exemptions for patients receiving frequent hospital treatments to drive through one traffic filter of their choosing and for people with temporary mobility problems, and; expanding the permit eligibility criteria for non-professional carers to include anyone with informal caring responsibilities, but with the exemption restricted to one traffic filter.
Councillor Andrew Gant, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways Management, said: “We received over 6,000 responses to the consultation and that feedback has helped shape the changes being proposed to the trial scheme. If approved by the council’s cabinet, the traffic filters will be implemented as a trial. This would allow another opportunity for people to share their views based on their experience of living with the filters.”
Cabinet members will consider a range of information before making a decision on the proposals. This includes feedback received during consultation as well as data on traffic modelling, air quality and equality and climate impact assessments. If approved, council officers are recommending that the traffic filter trial should begin after Botley Road reopens to motorised traffic following major improvements to Oxford railway station, which are expected to last for a year and planned to commence in January 2023.