Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for highways Councillor Tim Bearder (Lib Dem, Wheatley) this week backed recommendations to cut the limit from 50 to 40 mph on most of the roads that are designed to keep traffic out of the town centre.
Affected routes include the A4095, which incorporates sections of Howes Lane, Lords Lane and Southwold Lane, the A4421 Buckingham Road north of Bicester, the ring road comprising Skimmingdish Lane, Bicester Road, Charbridge Lane, Wretchwick Way, Neunkirchen Way and Seelscheid Way, the A41 east of Bicester towards Aylesbury, Middleton Stoney Road and Bicester Road in Launton.
The scheme is set to cost more than £200,000 and aims to increase safety, improve facilities for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists, children and older people and reduce emissions through the removal of the frequent speed changes.
The council’s report read: “The proposals seek to decrease the speed limit on the Bicester peripheral road to allow a uniform speed limit, thus addressing concerns from a road safety and active travel point of view.
“The proposals will also aid connectivity for residents of the planned new housing developments that are adjacent to the peripheral route, such as Wretchwick Green and North West Bicester.”
However, around a half to two-thirds of the 72 respondents to a public consultation objected when expressing opinions on changes to each individual road.
Bicester Chamber of Commerce said road access “must allow for free flowing traffic to move away from the town centre efficiently and quickly”, arguing there is “no factual reason to impose draconian reduced speed limits”, that this represents a “waste of money” and that the measures will “increase journey times and move traffic through the middle of the town”.
Despite all of that, Cllr Bearder trumpeted the changes.
“I have looked at this and it is an excellent initiative,” he said.
“I think it would make a lot of sense should Bicester go 20 mph internally. It has the support of the Bicester Bike Users’ Group (BUG) and I think it will radically improve journeys around Bicester for vulnerable road users.
“If you look now at all the buckled road crossings that the junctions, it is clearly necessary.”
The report also noted a proposed 50mph speed limit for the Boundary Way section of the A41 but following consultation with the public and Thames Valley Police, “this is not recommended to take forward”.