The part pedestrianisation of George Street to enable businesses to introduce outdoor dining starts on Saturday (22/8).
The road closure, between New Inn Hall Street and Cornmarket Street, will provide space for outdoor tables and chairs for up to 10 hospitality businesses between 10am and 9pm. Access remains to Gloucester Street.
Although George Street will be closed to all motorised vehicles, a two-way cycle lane will be retained through the road closure for bikes.
The new tables and chairs areas aim to support hospitality businesses that need additional space outdoors to be able to operate on a commercial basis whilst maintaining social distancing.
The pedestrianisation will be run as a trial until 20 September 2020.
Oxford City Council, working with Oxfordshire County Council, is only able to pedestrianise George Street now because there are relatively few vehicles travelling through Oxford city centre at the moment compared to previous years.
It will only be possible implement similar pedestrianisation schemes in George Street in future if the overall level of traffic is reduced in Oxford city centre. The City Council and County Council have proposed to introduce further bus gates into Oxford city centre to achieve this.
Earlier this week (18/8) the County Council, which is the highways authority for Oxford, announced the revised position of George Street bus stops during the road closure.
Buses that usually run along George Street will be diverted via Beaumont Street or Gloucester Green bus station, with buses stopping in either Beaumont Street, Magdalen Street or Gloucester Green bus station.
The Hackney carriage taxi rank outside the cinema in Gloucester Green will remain unchanged during the road closure.
The pedestrianisation of George Street is part of a wide range of work to support businesses in Oxford city centre through the coronavirus pandemic, including introducing a one-way pedestrian flow system, installing new bike racks, and making parking at Oxford’s five park and rides free throughout August.
“I’m delighted that we have been able to part pedestrianise George Street. Not only does this provide vital additional seating space for businesses during social distancing, it also provides a glimpse of what a city centre designed around pedestrians – rather than vehicles – could look like.
“We want to pedestrianise more of Oxford city centre, particularly Broad Street, but this is only possible if we reduce the overall amount of traffic cutting through Oxford. By reducing traffic, the bus companies can use Beaumont Street without getting stuck in congestion – moving vehicles out of the centre and enabling us to reclaim the space for pedestrians and cyclists.”
Councillor Tom Hayes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford