Oxford2050: How should we travel in and around Oxford in 2050?

Published: Monday, 27th November 2017

Driverless cars, hyperloops to travel quickly across the country, buses travelling across Oxford in underground tunnels, drones delivering shopping and large swathes of the city centre pedestrianised.

The way we travel around Oxford could be very different in 2050.                                                                     

Over the last weeks Oxford City Council has been asking residents and businesses for their views on how they think Oxford should look in 2050. This week, the City Council will be asking for views on transport in Oxford and beyond.

Already, 46,000 people commute into Oxford every day for work. With the population of Oxford set to increase from 161,000 today to around 190,000 in 2050, this number is expected to increase.

But the way people travel around Oxford could be the most radically changed aspect of life in the city in 2050.

The Zero Emission Zone – banning all petrol and diesel vehicles from the city centre – will have been introduced 15 years beforehand, and the Government will have banned the sale of all new petrol and diesel vehicles a decade ago.

Oxfordshire County Council’s vision for transport in the city in 2050 includes driverless pods booked via a mobile app and underground tunnels for buses – allowing Oxford city centre to be completely free from traffic for large parts of the day.

And this means that congestion could be a thing of past and Oxford’s wider road network could be focussed on cycling. Already today 17 per cent of people commuting into Oxford for work do so by bike – the second highest percentage of any English city.

This week’s Oxford2050 consultation will ask residents and businesses what they think the main form of transport in and around Oxford should be – mass transit systems, electric and non-electric bikes, or on foot.

But connectivity goes beyond just the transport network. By 2050 Oxford could have universal and fast broadband access – and this could radically change the way people work by enabling them to work wherever they choose.

Earlier this month, Oxford City Council launched the Oxford2050 consultation to find out what residents and businesses in Oxford think their city should look like in 2050. The aim is to create a single document that sets out everyone’s aspirations for Oxford, so that the whole community can work towards one goal.

Each week during the five-week consultation people will be asked for their views on an aspect of life in the city, ranging from transport and housing, to the economy and culture.

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “Oxfordshire will continue to see significant growth over the next 20 years and beyond in terms of houses being built and jobs created and with this success comes challenges. We welcome this growth as an opportunity to meet Oxfordshire’s future needs and retain our place as an economic centre of international significance.

“The county council has been working on an ambitious transport vision for Oxfordshire and Oxford – Connecting Oxfordshire - for a number of years and is already starting to see our efforts bearing fruit. Oxford is of course central to much of this and has its own unique challenges that we believe that we and our partners are equal to.  Rapid transit, something that we talked about in Connecting Oxfordshire, focusses on the crucial first and last miles of any journey, providing effective links to the planned big pieces of national infrastructure such as East West Rail and the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway which will join major centres of growth, both now backed by the National Infrastructure Commission and Government.

“Clearly, continuing to develop plans for the future of Oxford works best when our own residents play an active part in the discussions and so I would urge everyone to get involved in Oxford2050 and have their say.

“Oxfordshire has great strengths in the high-tech industries and has the potential to be a world leader for transport innovation. That is why we are closely involved in the development of new projects to plan for the future, such as driverless cars currently being tested on our roads. Work being done now can start to deliver these solutions in the next few years meaning that some of the 2050 vision could actually happen much sooner.”

Councillor Louise Upton, Oxford City Council’s Champion for Cycling, said: “By 2050, diesel and petrol cars will only exist as museum pieces. Air quality in our city centre will be excellent. Our main issue will be capacity – how to get the large number of people who live, work and visit Oxford in, out and around the city. Looking at how clogged up High Street is at the moment this is likely to involve a mass transit scheme like trams.

“There will be far fewer cars parked on streets as more and more people sign up to car clubs.  Driverless cars will be the norm. Many of those on-street car parking spaces will be replaced by cycle racks as people are encouraged to build exercise into their everyday lives: Cycle to work, cycle to visit friends, cycle to the shops. Driverless cars will be great news for cyclists as they will be much safer; they won’t be tempted to just nip past you and force you into the gutter.

“Living to 100 will be common, but not much fun unless we stay in good health for those last 20 years. Keeping active is absolutely crucial – the older you get the more exercise you need. Many of us get that by doing the hoovering, walking up the stairs, digging in the allotment, chopping vegetables, hanging out the washing – all things that could easily be done by machines. So we will need to replace those activities with enjoyable ways of keeping fit.

“We have lots of beautiful green areas right inside the ring road of Oxford – the path of the Cherwell from the north, the farm land in the south west, beautiful Port Meadow. I would hope to see cycling and walking routes crossing them. These would be both for leisure activities and for pleasant, safe journeys around the city.

“Electric bikes will be common, enabling people to go further while still getting exercise. People can commute much further on them so workers from further afield could travel in by bike (at least from the park and ride). Traffic jams will be a thing of the past – with coordinated movement of trams and driverless cars in half the road space, and legions of cyclists in their own network of off-road routes joining the roads just where our medieval road layout makes that necessary. 

“Electric bikes will allow people to continue cycling up Headington Hill in to their 90s. I anticipate our streets will be full of pedalling pensioners in 2050. And I will be one of them!”

For more information, and to take part in the consultation, residents and businesses in Oxford can visit: www.oxford2050.com.