42,000 new cars predicted on Oxfordshire roads by 2031 prompts calls for traffic calming

Data analysed by Oxfordshire Liveable Streets shows that 42,472 extra cars may be on the roads across the county by 2031, based on research into future housing developments. This is the equivalent of a 13% rise in car traffic, just based on planned new homes, with 28,880 more people commuting to and from work.

The data comes as a coalition of 16 community groups led by The Coalition for Healthy Streets and Active Travel (CoHSAT) call for new measures including traffic filters which would improve bus speeds and make it safer to cycle and walk in the city.

A consultation from Oxfordshire County Council on proposed new traffic filters is due to close this week (Thursday 13 October).

The Strategic Housing Market Assessment which was commissioned by the Oxfordshire local planning authorities shows that between 24,000 and 32,000 homes are needed between 2011 and 2031 to meet Oxford’s housing need.

There are currently 320,152 cars in Oxfordshire, for 241,217 households, making an average of 1.33 per household.

If 32,000 new homes were built in the coming decade, analysis of official Department for Transport figures show it would increase the numbers of cars in Oxfordshire by 42,472. If the lower predicted figure of 24,000 were achieved, it would still mean 31,854 additional cars on the road.

Across the UK as a whole, more than two-thirds (68%) of people travel to work by car, van or minibus, which means that there would potentially be 28,880 more people commuting in the area. 4.16 billion vehicle miles were travelled on roads in Oxfordshire in 2021 by motor vehicles.

Robin Tucker, chair of CoHSAT, said:

“These figures show that we just can’t stick with the status quo and hope for the best. If we want to get Oxford moving, we need to change the way we travel around our city and our county.

“The plans being announced won’t stop anyone driving anywhere in the city, but it will encourage more people to think about how they get from A to B, while speeding up our buses and making cycling a safer option.”

Separate analysis by Oxfordshire Liveable Streets shows that bus speeds in the city are no faster than a horse and cart. According to the Oxfordshire County Council’s own figures, average bus speeds (which are around 10mph in Oxford) have been declining on key routes to and from the city centre and employment sites, with only 8mph achieved between the JR hospital and city centre via Cowley Centre during weekday peaks.

Nine new schools are due to open in Oxfordshire in the coming four years, so urgent action is needed to address the potential impact of new housing, new schools and increased congestion and pollution.

Laura di Giacomo, a parent whose children attend Saint Ebbe’s CofE Primary School on Whitehouse Road, has set up a ‘bike library’ to support other parents and children to get access to free bikes and training to give adults and parents the confidence to take the bike on the school run.

Laura said:

“With new homes and new schools coming to the area, we need to help parents to choose the best way to get around. Air pollution is a serious issue on the school run, but people are prepared to make different journeys if you support them.

“Most parents support changes like school streets and traffic filters and we’ve supported dozens of parents and children who might otherwise be too scared to cycle. These changes will make the whole family feel much safer.”