A few months ago, I was asked if I would be interested in joining the Inclusive Transport Focus Group by our Wendy.
So, I sat in on the first meeting where it was well attended by all sorts of people - from Councillors to Oxford University, County Council and representatives from different places and walks of life. All have a specific interest in Accessibility issues for people with disabilities.
So far we have reviewed Low Traffic Neighbourhood Proposals, E-Scooters and other traffic innovations to ensure that no-one is left behind and all issues have been fully considered. They are also involved in the planning currently for the regeneration of Oxford Covered Market – so we have a lot to do.
Broad Street was high on the agenda and the proposed ideas which am sure many will now have seen have come to pass if you been watching the local TV news.
Personally, I admit that end of the city is one I do not visit much, between the many shop closures what was there to take me there basically!
The temporary Broad Meadows concept was discussed - creating an inner-city area of calm and tranquillity almost in amongst the hustle and bustle of the city. Some where folk could sit and enjoy the sun in a really accessible way - if we see any more summer of course!
The ultimate aim is to re-invigorate this end of town. Though tourism is down due to current climate it would hopefully create an area of interest for them as well as bringing no doubt welcome business to cafes and shops that end of Cornmarket.
The group, though agenda led by OCC Project Manager Ted Maxwell, was open for all to speak or write their comments and concerns and ideas for this trial event.
Naturally, the safety of people was a major concern whilst also acknowledging it is a main through road area for many cyclists to get to the west of the city. Ideas were discussed how to keep this route open whilst also looking at keeping the pedestrian as safe as could be from bikes and cars, trucks that access the area. Some interesting and useful information was gained from various people who specialised in that field on how to make the area user friendly.
Parking was discussed, how to retain the much valued disabled spaces. Various Councillors offered their expertise which was gratefully received as I certainly felt their view was enlightening and helpful. I got involved in the discussion and felt included and made to feel a part of the large group, welcomed by many people, some previously only seen on TV!
Maybe if successful and well received, the idea can be a more permanent and adapted according to the seasons such as Christmas, Ramadan, Diwali to represent diverse communities whilst educating people on different faiths, activities through the year and giving folk that safe area to express this whilst sat having a coffee and sticky bun while supporting local business in the area.
In the meantime, there are other matters being discussed in the Inclusive Transport Focus Group. I know there are things in the pipeline in my areas, so will be watching with interest as likely to affect me and my own community, as well as the bigger plan wanting to make Oxford a zero-emission zone.