Credit for tonight’s post must partly go to the Oxford Mail commentor who said they were looking forward to visiting friends in the East again and not having to pass Checkpoint Charlie.
To the supprise of nobody and the outrage of several, Network Rail snuck this out on Tuesday:
The howling from some quarters is so loud it could be mistaken for the end of the world, but how bad is it, really?
Well, let’s start with those of us who work off Botley Road: it’s great. The absence of all the through traffic travelling across Oxford or to the Westgate Centre makes Botley Road a comparative joy to walk, drive or cycle along. Even if you get to the end and find National Highways have decided to do some more roadworks for funsies:
Now, what about the businesses of West Oxford? Well, given the severely limited parking facilities and the congestion, I find it hard to believe lots of people who were using them before are failing to do so now. For myself, I’m patronizing Screwfix, B&Q, Waitrose (at the start of the month), Aldi (at the end) and the sandwich shop every bit as much as I did before.
The owner of the garage where I take my car for MOT and servicing was in the paper talking about how his prospective customers from Headington make bookings and then welsh on them when they realise they’d have to go round the ring road. Well, here’s a huge secret for the people of Headington … there are several garages, both chains and decent independents, on your side of the city. So why on earth were you making the traffic worse by coming all the way to Botley? All due respect to the man, his garage gets the job done but I don’t see it as worth travelling out of your way for.
I tried to scrape up some sympathy for the Westgate Centre, but like many in Oxford, I think they should never have built so much car parking in the first place, so boo-hoo. Fun fact, there’s still at least one empty unit in there which they haven’t filled since it opened. I wonder why?
The County Council could strap on some backbone and make the Park and Rides free (at least to Park) - if not now, then when? But even without that, for a family, it makes financial sense.
For sure, it can’t be much fun for the less mobile to have to de-bus (or de-taxi) on on side of the railway bridge and walk to the other (or make an expensive detour), but is it really them making all the fuss on social media?
Here’s an inconvenient truth. If not for the sake of the planet, then for the sake of our long term health as a nation, the majority of able-bodied 18-65 year olds desperately need to stop using their cars to travel distances of less than 5 miles.
I’m not a conspiracy theorist who thinks this was all done deliberately to accelerate that transition, but I like to think I’ll be leading the way in embracing it. And hoping for a spiffy new Oxford Station in 2024, preferably without the fares going up again.