Is Newman Road ready?

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There are two concerns with Newman Road. The first is the volume of traffic using this junction onto the A4158. The other is the physical changes recently introduced here. 

Traffic volume on Newman Road

“Junction loading” is a concern often voiced by would-be LTN areas. In Cowley, it has featured in discussions among residents in the Mayfair Rd area in Church Cowley, in the Temple Cowley area, and in the greater Herschel Crescent area in Church Cowley. The latter is in respect of the amount of households that will be using the Newman Road junction onto the A4158 (Figure 1). 

Figure 1: Household catchments created by filters*

S. Gower

*Filters (blue diamonds) left (west) of the A4158 (Rose Hill Rd) are existing; those on the right are proposed under the Church Cowley LTN.

We think it’s worth trying the scheme and seeing whether these concerns are borne out. We believe they won’t be. The reason is that this anxiety is framed in an “all else remaining equal” context. What we mean by that is that it doesn’t incorporate the traffic that will be removed from this junction when through-routes have been closed. Think of it this way: How often have you used Iffley Turn (by car)? Not very often, is our guess, because it’s of no use to you unless you’re visiting someone or some amenity there. That means the households using it (dark green in Figure 1) find it uncongested. At a rough approximation, these seem to be similar numbers as in the greater-Herschel-Crescent area (gold in Figure 1). Bigger still is the present-day Rose Hill estate’s loading onto Ashurst Way. 

Littlemore and future housing development

Some of the Newman Road traffic is currently generated from Littlemore, via the Bypass underpass. During the LTN, there will be two options for Littlemore residents: Newman Road will continue to be accessible (and the total quantity of households loading onto this road would rise to something on the same scale as the Rose Hill estate) and the Rose Hill roundabout will still be accessible from Littlemore as per usual. We note that Google Maps even now does not route Littlemore-origin journeys into Oxford centre via Newman Road. The first choice is Littlemore Road in Church Cowley, with the second choice being the Rose Hill roundabout (Figure 2). 

Figure 2: Current (pre-LTN) car routing to Magdalen Rd, Oxford

Google Maps’ preferred routing (via LTN)Second routing (via Rose Hill roundabout)
Google Maps

Newman Road physical changes

Relatively recently, the county council installed some infrastructure at the Newman Road junction with the A4158. While the intention was good — to provide some safer crossing options for people on foot and cycles — the design chosen has proven to be unpopular with drivers and pedestrians/cyclists alike. 

The pinch-point in Figure 3 has resulted in queueing traffic both ways, leading to tailbacks and difficulty using of the junction. We understand from local councillors that County is aware of this problem and are looking at an improvement with some urgency. 

Figure 3: Newman Rd pinch-point (looking west, towards A4158)

S. Thomas

An additional complaint is the placement of the “pedestrian refuge” in the A4158 itself, very near the actual junction with Newman Road (Figure 4). This presents a challenging right-turn for those exiting Newman Road, particularly for a vehicle of any size. Trouble executing a right-turn means a long tailback on Newman Road itself, even for those simply wanting to turn left to reach the Bypass. 

Figure 4: Pedestrian refuge in A4158 near Newman Road

Google Maps

The point of this blog post was to acknowledge concerns around Newman Road — at present and in the event of an LTN. We hope we’ve encouraged you to maintain an open mind about the LTN. We also support calls to re-think the new pedestrian/cycle infrastructure at Newman Rd. 

Because the LTN is being proposed as an “Experimental Traffic Regulation Order” (ETRO), it is essentially a trial. It is not permanent unless the county council decides to make it so, and even then only after enough of a trial period to see how it works once traffic has gone through a “settling in” process (the county has up to 18 months to observe this before having to decide whether to make permanent or scrap the scheme). 

Categories: Junctions