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Speech in Support of Motion To Improve Safety on A34

September 13, 2016 4:02 PM
By Cllr. Janet Godden

On Tuesday 13 September 2016 Oxfordshire County Councillors debated the issue of safety on A34. They called for Oxfordshire joining with Berkshire and Hampshire to urge ministers and Highways England to take speedy decisions to improve conditions on this busy and congested route, especially in the wake of recent serious accidents.

Cllr. Janet Godden (whose local division of North Hinksey adjoins this busy route) said in her speech:

"I support this motion. MPs and Highways England have been fiddling around on the periphery of this problem for too long - it's time for efficient local government to take a hand. Doing so jointly with Berkshire and Hampshire is a good idea - a meeting of riparian members might be a start.

I'm normally among those who say that there's no such thing as a dangerous road, only dangerous drivers, but in the case of the A34 I have to make an exception. It's at capacity - both lanes often choc-a-bloc. Around Oxford it has frequent busy junctions with slip roads too short to allow vehicles to join safely - this is where the collisions seem to occur.

The A34 slices through my division like a knife through blancmange. For most of this stretch it doubles as the City's southern bypass, and is subject to a 50 mile per hour speed limit, fought for over many years. Extending it to cover at least the whole stretch from Hinksey Hill to Peartree would be a low cost interim measure. So would some enforcement - if that speed limit were enforced for a week it would net a small fortune. So too would safe-distance markers, since it's vehicles travelling far too close together that turn a collision into a pile-up.

The option of widening the road to three lanes may have its backers, but there aren't many of them in my patch. Widening the road as it passes through North Hinksey would entail demolishing houses on both sides. And since there are severe gradient problems as the road is on the side of a steep hill most of the land would have to come from the east side, which would mean the destruction of, the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery dating back to the First World War, and threatening North Hinksey Village with its Norman church and listed houses

We can't leave applying common-sense short term measures while we search for long term solutions that will require countless years of assessment.