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At the same time as the Mayor of London released his full letter to Cllr Nickie Aiken, leader of Westminster Council, Transport for London (TfL) have published its consultation report on the Oxford Street scheme. Both documents make clear the fury London’s Mayor has for the actions of Westminster Council leaders in taking Oxford Streets pedestrianisation plans “off the table”.

Alongside our partners at Living Streets, we fully support the Mayor’s moves to tackle Westminster’s decision here. As Joe Irvin, Living Streets, says: “something must be done and soon, before a dire situation becomes worse”.

The decision to halt the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street, and then to call a Judicial Review on Cycle Superhighway 11 has harmed flagship active travel projects in the Heart of London, and we are pleased to see that the Mayor isn’t taking this lightly.

The Mayor writes to Westminster

From the letter, Khan writes: “You made this decision unilaterally with no attempt to compromise. This is not partnership working and is at odds with the development of the proposals over the last two years”.

Resident concerns about displaced traffic into surrounding areas (see below for TfL’s consultation data and response to this) are dismissed: “our joint work showed that the concerns about traffic displacement would not have materialised and my team were willing to discuss changes to our proposals that still delivered a transformed district,” writes Khan.

The Mayor writes that the core concerns any scheme must answer are:

  • visitor experience
  • economy (“the West End is home to 100,000 jobs and generates income to the Treasury upwards of £2bn per annum”)
  • air quality
  • crowding (due to the Elizabeth line “Bond Street station alone is expected to see 70,000 more entries and exits each day”)
  • road danger (“on average one person is killed and 60 people are injured in road traffic incidents each year” on Oxford Street)
  • protection of the public (“our proposals included measures to protect the significant numbers of people using Oxford Street, including from attacks using vehicles”).

The Mayor not only says any scheme must deal with these issues, but that funds won’t be forthcoming from TfL for anything other than a full scheme: “I will only be willing to commit funds to proposals that meet the challenges outlined and deliver what is needed… I have already invested more than £8m in good faith in this project. I note that your Cabinet report proposes to use a further £400,000 of TfL Local Implementation Plan (LIP) funding to develop what would seem to be a draft strategy for the area, without in fact delivering anything on street. I note there has been no prior discussion with TfL about the proposed use of these funds… given the extensive funding already spent on design, no TfL funding of any sort is to be used without prior discussion and agreement.”

Finally the Mayor says he expects Westminster to reveal plans by “the end of September”: “I believe this is a reasonable timescale for you to assess your options and there is a need to move quickly in the context of existing safety risks and the Elizabeth line’s full opening in December 2019.”

From TfL’s consultation report

The last consultation saw over 22,000 responses (including over 7,000 in bulk from Living Streets in support and over 600 in bulk from Better Oxford Street in opposition). Of the individual responses 64% said they either supported the scheme or supported it with “some concerns”.

Westminster’s leadership has attacked the scheme because they say most residents opposed the scheme. But only half of respondents who tagged themselves as “local residents” opposed – while 49% supported (including with “some concerns”). Of those who identified as businesses, 68% opposed (however the vast bulk of large businesses locally do appear to support it), but local employees and visitors were strongly in favour.

In other words, the scheme was overall supported by Londoners, even by Westminster residents it would seem, albeit with many raising significant concerns about specific elements of the scheme. LCC of course raised many issues – most notably the lack of detail or commitment to real quality for parallel routes, alongside the banning of all cycling – including disabled cyclists – from the street.

In response to the primary issues raised, TfL say they are not considering a “blue badge” scheme for disabled cyclists to be allowed on the street, and instead cycle parking would have been available “as close to Oxford Street as possible”.

TfL also refutes the idea that traffic would be heavily displaced into nearby areas such as Soho, Mayfair, Fitzrovia – one of the key concerns listed by those most against the scheme, and with most sway, it seems, with Westminster’s leaders. TfL’s view: “we do not believe that the transformation of Oxford Street West would have led to a general negative impact on the surrounding area. We know for example that across 78 selected locations, there would have been more significant beneficial air quality impacts than negative impacts. Our traffic modelling showed that our proposals would not increase traffic congestion in surrounding areas, and the majority of road trips would be unaffected.”

Both in terms of cycle routes going forward and “low traffic neighbourhood” approaches for the areas around Oxford Street being demanded by residents, TfL says this is now effectively Westminster’s concern: “The neighbourhoods around Oxford Street are part of the highway network, but could be looked at in terms of reducing through traffic, as other boroughs have done. The project introduced some changes that would have encouraged through traffic to remain on main roads. It would now be for Westminster to bring forward any area changes… we were developing proposals to introduce a network of high quality alternative cycling routes, that would link to the current and future cycling network… These will now be the subject of discussion with Westminster to see what proposals they would want to support to consultation.”

Finally, a cycle track along Oxford Street is still off the table, apparently: “A segregated cycle track that operates for part of the day, when pedestrian flows are lower, could be confusing, would be difficult to enforce and might act as a barrier for those pedestrians moving between shops on opposing sides of the road.” However, with businesses and residents pushing for delivery access, and TfL clearly not writing that off, whatever scheme comes forward we will continue to push for a high-quality cycling route – parallel or along Oxford Street, depending on the approach.

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Mayor Sadiq Khan has admitted he has only built 14km of cycle tracks since coming to power. Our work-in-progress London cycle infrastructure map shows that compared to that, during Boris Johnson’s Mayoralty, London gained 41km of main road TfL physically-protected cycle tracks and a further 39km from borough schemes.

Nearly all of Johnson's progress came in the last two years of his second term - which is why we asked Khan to repeat that rate of progress across four years in our #signforcycling election campaign. But Khan’s currently slow progress means that to achieve his pledge to triple the mileage of protected cycle tracks on main roads that Johnson achieved in two years, in his first term, Khan and the boroughs will have to build over 150km of cycle track (or discounting borough-led schemes will need to build over 80km).

What London needs

Since Khan’s election to Mayor, the 14km of track begun or completed includes the North-South Cycle Superhighway extension, the East-West Cycle Superhighway through some of the Royal Parks and track on schemes including Archway and Westminster Bridge. Borough schemes begun or completed amounts to nearly 15km and includes Boston Manor Road, the Stratford gyratory and schemes in the Waltham Forest and Enfield mini-Holland areas.

To achieve the #signforcycling tripling, our map suggests that the Mayor will need to complete CS4, CS9, CS11 and the six announced new strategic routes. If you add in borough schemes, he will need to do everything consulted on thus far (such as Nine Elms, Five Ways and the Canary Wharf – Rotherhithe bridge), everything the boroughs have announced so far, and find some more schemes from elsewhere to add on top.

Khan admitted the slow rate of progress following questioning from London Assembly member Caroline Russell. Khan also said he had delivered “over 100km of Quietways” and that “the mini-Holland, Quietways and central London grid programmes are also delivering some segregated space too. By 2020 more than 30km of additional protected space will have been delivered through these three programmes.”

What's the problem?

Khan suggested that the slow pace of delivery was down to boroughs, saying: “TfL is responsible for just 5% of London’s roads… If the councils work with us, we can do it... But we can’t impose these Cycle Superhighways. It’s a waste of taxpayers’ money to be bringing court cases against these cycle lanes that we desperately need.” [Referring to recent moves by Westminster Council to launch a judicial review against Cycle Superhighway CS11]

Khan and his new Deputy Mayor for Transport Heidi Alexander, as well as Walking & Cycling Commissioner Will Norman can blame the boroughs, but they face competition from another major UK city that seems to have solved that particular issue and are clearly ambitious to steal London’s crown as the UK’s premier cycling city.

Manchester on the rise

Chris Boardman, the Walking & Cycling Commissioner for Greater Manchester has announced his ambitious “Beelines” programme as the first phase in his programme to transform Manchester for walking and cycling. Boardman has secured £500 million of funding to deliver 25 filtered (or “low traffic”) neighbourhoods as well as up to 240km of cycle track (it is unclear whether the pledge to deliver “75 miles” of track counts each direction or not, as we do), with over 1,600km of safe walking and cycling routes total to connect all the major Manchester centres and regions. The Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, and Boardman say this is only the first step in a planned £1.5bn longer-term approach.

Most starkly, Boardman has met with and got routes and schemes initially approved from all of the councils that make up Greater Manchester, while Khan is still grappling with boroughs that refuse to embrace walking and cycling, and while Khan, Alexander and Norman seem very concerned about the dreaded “bikelash”, and wary of any moves that will upset residents, motorists and businesses, Boardman has been clear that on his watch, consultations will not be treated as a referendum and the case for building these schemes is clear. The Beelines document says: “Consultation offers a chance for all those affected to be heard. However, political leadership may also be required to ensure weight is given to positive change supported by the majority.”

With Burnham and Boardman taking bold strides to make Manchester the UK’s premier cycling city, Khan needs to get a move on to if he wants to retain that title for London.

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London Cycling Campaign presented the London Cycling Awards at the glamorous Livery Hall in Guildhall last week, hosted by the City of London.

After a passionate introduction by Chris Hayward, Chairman of Planning and Transportation at City of London, compere Ashok Sinha, CEO of LCC, announced a surprise special award to the City of London for their innovative temporary traffic-reduction scheme at Bank Junction.

Following straight on, Patricia Brown, Director of Central and Commissioner for Centre for London’s Roads and Streets Commission gave the keynote address, looking at the political and strategic components needed to make London a ‘byword for cycling’. She then announced the winner of the London Cycling Champion award, sponsored by Tideway, to Michael Barratt, MBE, for going the extra mile and getting TfL working with the construction industry to raise best practice on London’s roads.

LCC switched up the traditional awards format this year, adding in short visual presentations by four different awards presenters: Joseph Seal-Driver, ofo UK General Manager presented the award for Best New Cycling Project, sponsored by ofo, to London Borough of Enfield for Cycle Enfield A105 Scheme for putting in a scheme that stretches for miles along a busy high street. He kicked off the visual presentations with a slideshow about the innovative ways that dockless bike hire is revolutionising and diversifying cycling in cities.

Michael Barratt MBE, Development Impact Assessment Manager at TFL, presented a rousing presentation about the ways that good foresight regarding cycling in relation to new infrastructure developments in London can positively impact a wide range of people, with the goal of achieving a ‘cycling utopia’. He then presented the award for Keeping London Moving, sponsored by Rosehill Highways, to Tideway for Victoria Embankment: an impressive diversion of the Cycle Superhighway that goes beyond what we have seen previously and has kept this key cycle route open.

Next up was LCC’s own campaigns co-ordinator, Fran Graham, who asked the question: why don’t people cycle in London? Safety fears are the main barrier – as well as infrastructure and street design that doesn’t take into account the needs of people who use wider cycles including trikes and cargo bikes. Fran presented the Best Inclusive Cycling Scheme Award, supported by Wheels for Wellbeing, to London Borough of Lambeth, TfL and Sustrans London, for their Community Street Design: this scheme shows a good example of high quality community engagement leading to a good first step towards a low traffic neighbourhood.

Last but by no means least was LCC trustee and Founder and Director of Cyclo Consulting, Neil Webster, who not only presented a thorough breakdown of the ways that businesses can support their staff to travel actively, but did the whole thing in rhyming couplets! Rounding off the awards for the night, he gave the award for Best London Business, sponsored by Cyclehoop, to Nomura International plc for Nomura Cycle Safe, for its investment in world class facilities for cyclists.

Thank you to the City of London, especially the Road Danger Reduction team and Active City Network, and all our partners and sponsors. Thank you to the International Cycling History Conference for providing some spectacular bikes from the last 200 years to decorate the Livery Hall!

 

For more images please click through to our Flickr page.

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Star builders and riders at Roberts Rendezvous 

Photo above courtesy Lawrence Lawry.

The remarkable Roberts Rendezvous rally re-united 50 Roberts bikes with their master frame builders in London’s grand Guildhall Yard. Frame builders Geoff Roberts (son of Roberts founder Charlie Roberts), Winston Vaz and Adrian Parry were joined by former Roberts employees Adam Horton, Brian Phillips (mechanic) and Neil Carlson (website author) for a celebration of one of London’s finest bike makers. The event was attended by some 60 Roberts’ enthusiasts who were treated to a tribute to Charlie Roberts’s skills from Maurice Burton, Britain’s first black cycling champion and an enthralling Q&A session with the frame builders and other staff. All three of the builders now have their own workshops (Geoff Roberts Frames, Varonha (Winston Vaz) and Six Four Frameworks (Adrian Parry)). 

Image above: Maurice Burton with  Roberts frame builders and staff. Courtesy TB 

Among the many interesting revelations,  attendees discovered that Roberts built bikes for the Status Quo rock group as well as for world champion Tony Doyle ; MTB winners Dave Gould, Dave Hemmings and  Tim Baker; national TT champion Michael Hutchison and, of course, Maurice Burton (now owner of De Ver Cycles in Streatham). 

The mystery of the early Roberts frame numbering system became even more complex when we learned that numbers we entered in note books and when a new note book was started the count may well have started from scratch again.  We also heared that very early Roberts frames has wrapover stays similar to those used at Holdsworth in the 1960s when Charlie Roberts was works manager there.  

Prize winners - Image above courtesy Lawrence Lawry

At a grand prize giving, medals in the shape of the Roberts head badge (key ring versions from this site) , designed and donated by co-organiser Neil Carlson, were presented along with cycling books. Attendees received copies of Fred the Magic Bicycle children’s book, donated by its author, and co-organiser, Tom Bogdanowicz and a post-event raffle is being held for an amazing discount off a product (frame, frame build lesson or re-spray) at Geoff Robert Frameworks donated by Geoff. Many thanks to all who came, especially the Roberts crew, to the event and post-event drinks. Also many thanks to the City of London , the London Cycling Campaign and Rob Lister who provided a super venue and help with logistics.   

Anyone with an interest in Roberts is invited to send an email to info@lcc.org.uk with Roberts in the subject line. You can also subscruibe, free, to the LCC newsletter which regaualrly provides updates on events and campaiging issues. Another Roberts event in 2020 is under consideration. The Roberts history page is here and will be updated in due course. 

More photos on flickr and at robertscycles.com where there is also a crowd  funding call for a new Roberts Cycles jersey and you may still be able to get a commemorative key ring if there are any left. 

And finally a shot of the prize winning fleur-de-lis track Roberts

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We are running a series of ride leader training sessions to help support people who are volunteering on the Freecycle led rides. There are two sets of courses

Introduction to Ride Leading – Marshals

Learn the basics of ride leading and supporting large groups of cyclists moving through roads with motor traffic. A short classroom session followed by a practical on bike session where you will try out the roles of ride leader, back mark and marshals.

Starts at 18.00 here at LCC's office in Wapping finsihes about 20.30

Tuesday 26 June – Sign up here

Thursday 19 July  – Sign up here

Tuesday 24 July - Sign up here

 

Ride Leader Training

A more detailed look at the role of ride leading with the aim that you should be able to take on this role after the training session. This course is good for experienced marshals or ride leaders who want to refresh their skills.

Starts at 10.00 here at LCC's office in Wapping and finishes about 15.00

Saturday 7 July – Sign up here

Saturday 14 July – Sign up here

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 Ride marshal volunteers wanted for Freecycle Feeder rides

The Prudential RideLondon Freecycle is on Saturday 28th July and London Cycling Campaign are running 35 rides into the event, and back home again. These rides escort families and those less confident at cycling on London’s busy roads into the event at a relaxed past. Once into the Freecycle route participants enjoy a motor traffic free route around Central London.

We need volunteers to help marshal rides – you will work as part of a team of local LCC group members, cycle trainers and volunteers. The rides start between 08.30 and 10.00 and typically get into the event for about 11.00. The return rides depart at 15.00 towards home

What we are looking for:-

  • Experienced cyclists who are used to cycling in groups. This could be as part of an cycling club or more informal riding
  • You should be confident and friendly and willing to communicate with pedestrians and car drivers
  • Your cycling skills should be at or above Bikeability Level 3

We are offering training if you want to build your skill levels – more details here

We are actively looking for cycling clubs or groups of cycling club members top ‘adopt’ a ride form their local area. This is an excellent way to help other cyclists in your local area and link your club in to the local community.

Individuals can register to volunteer here

If you are from a cycle club and want to link up your club with a local ride then e-mail us cyclingprojects@lcc.org.uk

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Westminster Council's leaders intend to launch a judicial review against Cycle Superhighway CS11 works starting at Swiss Cottage, it has been revealed by The Guardian. The news comes a week after the council's leaders declared the removal of motor traffic from Oxford Street to be "off the table".

Living Streets and London Cycling Campaign strongly condemn both actions. Our full statement on the CS11 news is below:

London Cycling Campaign and Living Streets strongly condemn Westminster City Council leaders for launching a judicial review against Cycle Superhighway CS11 work at Swiss Cottage.

Coming soon after the same leaders took the removal of motor traffic on Oxford Street "off the table", this demonstrates the actions of a leadership apparently determined to oppose positive moves to improve roads for those walking and cycling anywhere and everywhere they can.

Westminster city council leaders seem set on unpicking progressive measures such as CS11 and Oxford Street aimed at making London a healthier, safer, more attractive place to live. Their actions prioritise motor traffic over walking, cycling, business and our health. This is in direct contradiction to the council's own policies.

Westminster Transport & Movement document (July 2014) says prioritising walking and cycling is "particularly important" for the council. Once more council leaders have opposed a scheme that would offer major improvements for walking and cycling, and one not even inside their borough this time.

If Westminster Council leaders wish to genuinely improve matters for those walking and cycling, then the council should work to ensure all of CS11 moves forward rapidly. That means helping implement the scheme on Avenue Road and Portland Place, supporting work towards closing the Regent's Park gates as consulted on, and not opposing the start of the scheme in Camden, at Swiss Cottage.

By its actions Westminster Council is putting people needlessly at risk of harm for purely political reasons. We urge it to put people’s safety first and stop attempting to wreck efforts to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on London’s roads.

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Use the URL http://bit.ly/LDNcycletracks for our new work-in-progress map to track Sadiq Khan's #signforcycling election pledge to triple the mileage of protected space for cycling on main roads. We've included layers in this map (use the slider in the top left corner of the frame to turn layers on and off) that cover constructed tracks before Sadiq's election from TfL and the boroughs, as well as those that moved into construction after his election, those that have been consulted on but not yet brought into construction and his announced (but not consulted on) six new strategic routes - with best guess alignments.

The map is still a work-in-progress and we welcome your feedback on it. Please email simonm@lcc.org.uk with any comments.

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Aussie-inspired Roberts heading for Rendezvous on 13th June (Guildhall Yard 4pm -7pm )

The world’s most renowned Velodrome designer (including the London Olympic Velodrome), Ron Webb, was a track rider in his youth. On a trip to the UK in the sixties he asked for his custom-built Roberts to transmit more power through the pedals. The outcome was the distinctive Roberts ‘beefy’ seat stay which created a stiffer rear triangle for better power transmission.

A rare example of  this 60s design, built while Charlie Roberts was still using his home address on the head badge, has turned up at the Hackney Peddler shop and will be making its way to the Roberts Rendezvous at Guildhall Yard, City of London on 13th of June (4pm – 7pm) . The frame number, which looks to be 66, suggests it was one of the earliest to leave the Roberts workshop.

 

Roberts ‘beefy’ stays appeared at a time when many frame makers were still using the pencil stays favoured in the 1950s but they became more common during the late sixties and seventies.

The red track frame is one of dozen Roberts hanging in the showroom of Hackney Peddler which purchased some of the remaining stock when the Croydon workshop of Roberts closed down in 2015.

Owners and fans of Roberts Cycles and related brands (Holdsworth, Claud Butler, Geoffrey Butler, Freddie Grubb, Condor, Pearson, Nerve, Varohna) are gathering at Guildhall Yard on the 13th of June, as part of the City Cycling Festival, to celebrate more than 50 years of Roberts production.

Three of the legendary Roberts frame builders will be at the event: Geoff Roberts, Winston Vaz and Adrian Parry. We also anticipate other staff members and Roberts’ history experts.

Specially designed commemorative CR medals will be awarded for the oldest, most unusual and best preserved Roberts.

Geoff Roberts has kindly offered a prize of a very generous discount off the price of an item from his frame workshop

Replicas of the CR medals (which also serve as key rings) will be available after the event.

All registered attendees (send an email with Roberts in the subject line to info@lcc.org.uk) will receive a free copy of the acclaimed children’s book “Fred the Magic Bicycle.”

The plan for the informal evening is as follows:

4 pm arrivals – there is a fine gallery (free entrance) on site open till 5pm

5pm onwards – chats with builders, former staff and other Roberts’ owners

6pm – 6.30 – Historical line up and judges assess assembled cycles

6.40 – Prize giving

6.50 - Group photo

7 pm – Continued discussion at Davy’s Woolgate Bar and Brasserie (across the road from Guildhall in Basinghall St). Woolgate Exchange, 25 Basinghall St, London EC2V 5HA

Cycle parking: We invite you to bring your cycles in to Guildhall Yard so that we can all admire them. There is, however, parking in Aldermanbury just outside Guildhall. At Davy’s Bar we will be standing outside in close proximity to walls where bikes can be placed within eyesight.

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The leadership of Westminster Council have without warning, announced they are taking the current proposals to remove motor traffic from Oxford Street “off the table for good”, despite lending their support to the previous public consultations.

Westminster Leader Cllr Nickie Aiken said: “doing nothing to improve the area is not an option either” and that Westminster is “working on our own proposals to improve the Oxford Street district and will share them with residents, business and visitors for discussion in the early Autumn.”

However, there is no guarantee that Westminster’s plans will be as transformative for the area as those advanced by the Mayor, or that any plans at all will come forward. And by taking the plans to remove motor traffic from the street off the table, Westminster Council’s leadership have pretty much guaranteed that when the Elizabeth Line opens this December, bringing thousands more people to Oxford Street, the situation there will get far worse than it is currently.

As a result, LCC and Living Streets have issued a joint statement condemning the actions of Westminster Council’s leadership, in full below, asking them to rethink their stance and the Mayor to take all appropriate action.

London Cycling Campaign and Living Streets statement

Living Streets and London Cycling Campaign jointly condemn Westminster City Council leaders for walking away from their previous support for a traffic-free Oxford Street.

The leadership of Westminster Council has announced that it will no longer support plans to make Oxford Street traffic-free. Living Streets and the London Cycling Campaign condemns this irresponsible action and call on Westminster’s leadership to see sense. Unless they do, Oxford Street will remain one of the most polluted and congested major city locations in the world – an embarrassment to London at a time when forward-looking major cities are prioritising walking, cycling, public transport and smart logistics

Whatever Westminster’s leaders do and say, a transformation of Oxford Street will happen – because it has to. London cannot accept its iconic shopping street continuing to be so dominated by motor traffic that it is failing businesses, failing pedestrians who are suffering far too many collisions and injuries, failing those seeking to cycle in safety to and through the area, and failing with illegal pollution levels that damage the health of those visiting the area.

We call on Westminster’s leaders to engage constructively and rapidly to move forward plans for radical change to Oxford Street and the wider West End – to plan and build a city centre and iconic shopping destination fit for their residents, but also for all Londoners and visitors. This necessarily means removing motor traffic from Oxford Street and prioritising walking and cycling throughout the area. Anything less will be failing London – and indeed the image of the whole UK.

We call on the Mayor to use all available and appropriate measures to ensure a scheme for Oxford Street moves forward rapidly, and that other projects Westminster Council leaders are opposing or obstructing – such as Cycle Superhighway 11 – now move forward without delays or dilution.

Further, we believe that the Mayor should only fund Westminster Council’s own projects if they ensure the borough is progressing towards the Mayor’s Transport Strategy aims and objectives.

This doesn’t need to be the end of the story. A motor traffic-free Oxford Street is possible. We call on the leaders of Westminster Council to reverse their decision and once more look to the future and not the past.

Here is the full statement by Westminster. And here is LCC's previous blog on a cycling ban on Oxford Street, parallel cycling provision and the broader area.

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