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Oxford, Broad Street - Temporary Public Space

Executive Summary

The historic Broad Street in Oxford which bordered Balliol college, shops, cafes, and libraries was due to be turned into a temporary public space (3 months) which included landscaping and a seating area.  TMS were invited to carry out Stage 1, 2 and 3 road safety audits to see if any recommendation could be made. If the trial proved to be popular, they may consider a more permanent scheme.

Introduction

Our client was a Local Authority for Oxford, for whom TMS had previously carried out Road Safety Audits for. The proposed scheme was to provide a temporary (3 month) public space, which included landscaping, seating, and open areas in what is a heavily vehicular trafficked street. This would provide a place for people to meet and congregate or sit in privacy in an enjoyable space.

The scheme is in a historic street (Broad Street) of Oxford City Centre, which is bordered by college buildings (Balliol College), shops, cafes, and libraries. To facilitate the scheme, the section of Broad Street would be closed to vehicular traffic (except for emergency vehicles). However, during the St Giles Fare, some minor alterations would be made to the scheme to enable buses to pass through. The scheme was to be opened for three months from July 2021, with the hope that the trial may prove popular enough to consider a more permanent scheme in the future. TMS audited the scheme at Stage 1 & 2 in June 2020 and were invited back to carry out the Stage 3 Road Safety Audit in July 2021.

RSA Stage 1 & 2 

RSA Stage 3 

Assessment

The scheme is interesting because of the potential for transformation from a busy vehicle and pedestrian thorough fare to a more relaxed non-trafficked open public space.  All the infrastructure associated with the scheme was to be temporary in nature - seating, planters, lawned areas and removed at the end of the three-month period.

At Stage 1&2, the Audit Team only identified one problem, that being the state of the carriageway on Broad Street. Given the nature of the proposals and change of use to a more pedestrian orientated street, the poor surface and potholes were deemed to be a potential trip hazard. Metal manhole covers may also be slip hazards to pedestrians.

At Stage 3, the Audit Team noted that there were fewer temporary pedestrian ramps than desirable, which enable pedestrians to transition between the existing footways and the street level.

Recommendations

The recommendations were simple for the team, at Stage 1&2 improvements to the road surface were suggested due to the identified trip hazard e.g., potholes and manhole covers.At Stage 3 where the scheme was made available to the public, it was recommended to provide additional pedestrian ramps around the scheme.

Final Thoughts

The scheme was an interesting one to be involved in, largely due to the significant change in nature and use of what is an important and very historical street within the City Centre. From the Audit Teams observations at the Stage 3 site visit, it was well used by the public for the very activity that it was designed for.

TMS Copyright 2013