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Hythe Bridge- dicing with the Grim Reaper


involuntary game of ‘chicken’ on the notorious Hythe Bridge/George Street crossing

This cute little island of painted lines is all that stands between  drivers and cyclists. The traffic designers of our great city (crammed full of grey matter on other counts) have turned a deaf ear to hundreds of complaints and a blind eye to several accidents on this lethal crossroads.

Ever since the crossing was re-designed earlier in 2015 I have ventured out on my bike in the awful consciousness that it could be my last ride. Between myself and the wing-mirrors of cars and trucks there is a whisper of a passage as I brave Hythe Bridge Street. I signal right and make for the teensie space at the head of traffic designated for bikes. Then I wait, along with half a dozen others, for the few seconds allowed to pedestrians to cross over, after which I make a furious dash for George Street before traffic starts thundering all round me from two directions.

This is in a city chock-a block with cyclists.

Tomorrow I am handing in a petition started in Change.org at the Council meeting. At ten a.m. I shall stand up in the Council chamber and say this:

We request Oxfordshire County Council to re-design the crossing facility for bikes at Hythe Bridge and George Street.

On last night’s PM programme the second lead item was about the bin-lorry driver Harry Clarke who withheld his serious health issues from Glasgow City Council and mowed down several pedestrians. Apparently there are many drivers of HGVs and buses who are possibly keeping their true health records from their employers. How long before one of them has a fit or a heart attack and mows down a cyclist- or several, since they are all bunched up- on the Hythe Bridge crossing?

We are very vulnerable to traffic coming from two sides.

It is absolutely not clear when we cyclists should cross over

Hundreds are affected each day

I present a petition with 1,000 signatures that were collected in a week.

All the signatories are angry and disappointed with the Council ignoring their many complaints and reports of injuries and damage to bikes.

“I am signing because this is a death trap! The whole crossing is a terrible example of road traffic management.”

“I have stopped using this junction since the re-design. I regard it as far too dangerous to use and wholly biased in favour of motor traffic over pedestrians and cyclists. My journey to the station is nearly 10 minutes longer as a result. Absurd.” (Peter Hitchens,  journalist).

Can we hope that the Stage 3 Safety Audit will take all the points raised in consideration and that the Council will have a kinder take on cyclists as well as pedestrians?

Today’s 10 o’clock local News shows the flaws in the several million pound re-jigging of Frideswide Square. On the North side the  pseudo-Great Pyramid carapace of the Saudi financed Said Business School, producing MBAs from the developing nations by the hundreds, on the South the red brick Victorian Jam Factory, once home to Frank Cooper’s Oxford Marmalade. Sandwiched in the middle a confusing whirlygig of roundabouts and mimsy tree-lined avenues: no cycle lanes, no safe crossings for the blind. A mess really.

The great Panjandrum of Oxfordshire County Council, Mr  Nimmo-Smith has to be convinced that a medieval university town needs to cater for people on foot and people on not-so-quaint forms of transport like push bikes. The HGVs, ‘luxury’ tourist coaches, double decker buses, enormous cement mixers and bin lorries must not have priority over the likes of us.

Oxfordshire County Hall

Oxfordshire County Hall

I spoke my piece this morning, as did James. Our petition now stands at 1,100 signatories.

We noted the prevalence of the Tory Council members, few of whom are likely to be familiar with riding bicycles and we learned from Simon Hunt and Graham Smith of Cyclox that the County Engineer is in fact an accountant and not a person who speaks the language of nuts and bolts. No wonder the roads are in such a merry state!

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