EWR London Road Crossing
7th June 2021

EWR London Road Crossing

Bicester BUG supports the pragmatic (in terms of costs and construction impact) solution of a walking and cycling underpass which would boost active travel in Bicester, reduce local air pollution and enable improvements to the rail station area (boosting access and improving public transport links) and wider town centre. We would not support a pedestrian and cycle bridge.


1. Bicester Bike Users’ Group (‘Bicester BUG’) is an organisation dedicated to facilitating everyday cycling in Bicester. It has over 100 members and has significant representation from those with disabilities, parents, and female and elderly cycle users.

2. Bicester BUG supports the pragmatic (in terms of costs and construction impact) solution of a walking and cycling underpass which would boost active travel in Bicester, reduce local air pollution and enable improvements to the rail station area (boosting access and improving public transport links) and wider town centre. We would not support a pedestrian and cycle bridge.

3. In summary:

a. There is very limited benefit to a motor vehicle crossing of the railway at London Road.

b. Continued pedestrian and cycle access across the railway at London Road is essential, but a bridge would exclude the majority of users. Only an underpass would ensure continued pedestrian and cycle access.

c. Public transport access to the railway and town centre from the south would be accommodated by a small terminus adjacent to the railway.


4. There is very limited benefit to continued motor vehicle access across the railway, despite vocal opposition from some residents in Old Langford.

5. London Road is of limited use to Old Langford residents using vehicles because it does not connect Old Langford with Bicester Town directly for motorised traffic. To travel from Old Langford to Bicester Town by car, it is necessary to travel out of Old Langford to the Bicester Ring Road, and then proceed around the ring road to the Rodney House Roundabout. From the Rodney House Roundabout, there are two routes into Bicester Town, via the

existing A41 overpass, or via London Road. The difference in time it takes to travel from the centre of Old Langford to the most likely destination, the Sainsbury's multi-storey car-park, is negligible (around 1 minute). Compare Figures 1 and 2:

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6. In addition, while motor vehicle access between Old Langford and Bicester Town centre is circuitous, the pedestrian and cycle access is easy and direct. There is a direct, off-road, walking and cycling path of less than a mile. It is far quicker to cycle into the centre than it is to try and drive, even excluding the time taken to find a parking space and park one's car. Given current government policy is to encourage journeys of less than a couple of miles to walk or cycle, it would be reasonable to expect that a good proportion of these journeys be taken by bike or on foot. See Figure 3:

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7. London Road does provide an alternative driving cut-through for Old Langford residents if there is traffic on the A41 overpass caused by an accident or similar, but this is relatively rare. As such, providing a second motor vehicle crossing in addition to the existing A41 railway overpass as a 'reserve' traffic route seems excessive.

8. In parallel, the likely trajectory of motor vehicles after crossing the railway is relevant because the ability to drive through the centre of Bicester is due to be curtailed, thereby reducing the justification for motor vehicle access at London Road. After crossing the railway, many drivers currently look to drive through the Market Square. This is possible at the present time, but unlikely to continue in the medium-term future. The Market Square is the most attractive area of Bicester, but the quantity of traffic is excessive and stifling local businesses. There are active moves by the town and district council to pedestrianise it. In addition, Oxfordshire County Council, the highways agency, are implementing plans to reduce traffic flow through the Causeway, another existing route for traffic through the Market Square and over the railway at London Road. Further measures to discourage motor vehicle traffic through the market square may include bus gates. Such measures are likely to reduce the incentives for drivers to want to traverse the railway at London Road, and thereby undermine the rationale for a future motor vehicle crossing.

9. Against these limited benefits, there are significant detriments associated with continued motor vehicle traffic over the railway at London Road. A large concrete overpass would create noise, pollution, and nuisance which would very much undermine the character of Bicester as a quiet and historical market town. Construction could only be achieved by destroying many of the homes and other buildings in the area. The indicative footprint of the bridge (Fig 6.10, EWR Consultation Technical Report) indicates that it would almost certainly stray into the conservation area already highlighted by the EWR alliance in the Planning Appraisal from 2016 (Fig 2 EWR Alliance). The construction cost would be likely to be very considerable. The environmental cost of construction would also be significant.

10. On balance, continued motor vehicle access across the railway is unlikely to provide significant benefits.


11. Accessible pedestrian and cycle access under the railway at London Road is essential. The best solution would be a modern pedestrian and cycle underpass. A bridge would be completely non-viable for the majority of pedestrians and cyclists due to its height. An underpass could also provide utility to the station in terms of improved transfer of passengers between platforms and retail/service area.

12. Unlike motor vehicle drivers, there is no feasible alternative route for pedestrians and cyclists to cross from the south of Bicester to the north within a reasonable distance of London Road. A pedestrian and cycle crossing is therefore essential.

13. The level of the rail at London Road is elevated above ground level by a few metres. As such, the relative positions of the rail and the ground level militate in favour of an underpass. The main advantage of an underpass is that it can be of modest size (2.4m in height). In an area where there is already a height difference between the rail and the ground, the slope that would be necessary would be negligible, and easily navigable by all users.

14. An underpass is particularly advantageous for bicycle users because the momentum gathered on the descent can be partially recovered on the ascent.

15. Modern underpass designs can be safe and pleasant to use. In areas where the distance is short, as at London Road, it is possible to take advantage of natural light, and good visibility.

16. The design of the underpass could be undertaken to ensure that it would welcome visitors to Bicester in an appropriate and stylish way. See for example Figures 4 and 5:

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17. An underpass would be a benefit to the railway. At present, customers of the railway who wish to traverse from one platform to the other either have to walk up a particularly high bridge, share a very small lift, or walk all the way out of the station, through the carpark, over the level crossing, and back the other side. An underpass would provide a much more accessible means for customers of the railway to cross from one platform to the other with minimal effort.

18. By contrast, a pedestrian bridge would bisect Bicester and be either unusable, or discouraging for the majority of users. This would significantly undermine government policy to support and encourage walking and cycling. The problem is that given the difference in height between the rail and ground level, a bridge would need to be between 8-10m high. That is equivalent to climbing into the attic of a 3-storey building. There is a reason that elderly people like to live in bungalows. In addition to that, the 1:20 slope of a ramp that would be required to accommodate the disabled would require a considerable distance, 400m or more horizontally. Such a distance could not be achieved in a straight line, so numerous switchbacks would be needed to accommodate such a ramp. Each switchback is energy sapping to use. The Dutch CROW manual estimates that each stop on a bicycle saps the energy equivalent necessary to cycle 100m. Traversing such a bridge on a mobility scooter would be particularly problematic and battery draining, given the location of the nearby Langford View care home and the number of residents from the home who use London Road to access the centre on scooters. Overall, the imposition of a pedestrian and cycle bridge would be the equivalent to unnecessarily creating a barrier to walkers and cyclists equivalent to travelling as much as another kilometre.

19. There is already a much hated pedestrian bridge at Tubbs Lane, to the east of London Road. Elderly and vulnerable residents struggle to use it and generally avoid it, and it has caused antisocial behaviour such as individuals using it to throw projectiles into a nursery which it overlooks.

20. Overall, the appropriate solution for pedestrians and cyclists, which would benefit the railway, would be a modern, shared underpass.


21. A pedestrian and cycle underpass at London Road could accommodate public transport provision with a small new bus terminus to the south of the railway.

22. The railway at London Road is less than 400m from the Market Square, and a similar distance to the Bicester Village Outlet shopping centre. As such, it would be reasonable to expect that visitors arriving from the south of Bicester by bus could walk the remaining distance to their destination. This distance is comparable to, and often less than, distances walked by those already driving to the town once their car is parked.

23. Closure of the road would open up the possibilities to construct a small bus terminus to the south side of the railway.

24. Few bus routes traverse Bicester north to south via the London Road, and those routes that do so (eg the S5) could be routed slightly differently to serve their customers, with minimal disruption.


25. Secure parking, charging, servicing for electric and non standard bikes could be integrated into the walking and cycling underpass forming an active travel hub to complement the bus/train possibilities that the underpass also unlocks.


Department for Transport (2020), Local Transport Note 1/20

CROW (2017), Design Manual for Bicycle Traffic

EWR Consultation Technical Report (2020)

EWR Alliance (2016), London Road Level Crossing, Bicester Planning Appraisal

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