Thousands of protesters gathered in central Oxford on Saturday 18 February to protest against 15-minute cities and the Oxford County Councils decision to trial controversial traffic filters set to start in 2024.
Campaigners began their protest on Broad Street where several speakers spoke about the dangers of traffic filters, Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs), and the whole concept of 15-minute cities.
After the speakers had finished addressing the crowd the protesters marched through Oxford City, Past Magdalen College and onto Cowley Road. St Clement’s Street, Iffley Road and Cowley Road are already heavily affected by the implantation of LTNs in Oxford and they’re likely to be further impacted by the trialling of the traffic filters in 2024.
Oxford is going to be one of the first cities in the UK to trial policies which are considered part of the 15-minute city concept. The Oxfordshire County Council believe that the implementation of the traffic filters could be a key step in improving air quality, reducing congestion and making the city centre a nicer place to walk and cycle.
Many protesters in Oxford believe the LTNs and traffic filtering systems have nothing to do with improving air quality and making the area nicer for local residents, but are in fact another means of social control which could easily been abused and manipulated in the future.
The general consensus is that the people of Oxford are annoyed because they havn’t had the opportunity to vote on any of the controversial traffic filters which the Oxfordshire County Council are set to trial.
Several protesters stated their concerns about a lack of democracy in Oxford but also the inpracticality of these ‘traffic calming’ measures. The Oxford Mail recently published an article highlighting concerned of the emergency services who fear further LTNs could reduce paramedics ability to response quickly to an emergency.
The traffic filtering systems being trialled are intended to lower traffic congestion, reduce air pollution and make the city a more pleasant place to walk and cycle. Many in the council view the new traffic filters as a continuation of greener living policies such as Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) which have been implemented around the UK for several years.
LTNs are neighbourhoods in which smaller access roads are blocked off with the intention of directing traffic in a certain direction or along a specified route. The claimed intention is to lower air pollution, reduce congestion and make the streets safer for pedestrians.
Lizz Leffman the leader of Oxfordshire County Council and Duncan Enright the cabinet member for travel and development strategy published a video which they hoped would ease the tension and clear up, some of what they claim is ‘misinformation’. Despite large amounts of opposition to the proposed traffic filtering system and without the policy being put to a vote for Oxford’s residents the Oxfordshire County Council has decided to continue with the trial set to start in 2024.
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