A cycling group has shared new concept designs for a pedestrian underpass at a level crossing with a disputed future.

A spokesperson for Bicester Bike Users’ Group (BUG) said the group is frustrated by Oxfordshire County Council’s (OCC) and East West Rail’s (EWR) failure to offer suitable pedestrian and cycle access for when the London Road level crossing, in Bicester, closes.

As such, the group has this week shared alternative concepts for an underpass.  

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The designs incorporate gentle sloping ramps with provision for both walkers and cyclists, easy connections to the Bicester Village railway station platforms, and a bright and airy underpass for safety and to discourage anti-social behaviour.

The spokesperson added that to date, OCC and EWR have only offered members of the public the option of a pedestrian bridge at London Road.

Yet people have complained the vast height required for any bridge makes it effectively unusable for all but the most determined users.  

George Bennett, Chair of Bicester BUG said: “Any railway bridge has to be almost three storeys high and with a disabled ramp.

“At that height the ramps need to be several hundred metres long resulting in torturous ‘switch-back’ bridges such as we have at Tubbs Lane.

“These are almost unusable for many, particularly vulnerable people.

“By contrast, a pedestrian underpass needs only a single storey of headroom, and even less where the railway is relatively elevated, such as at London Road.

“This means there can be a single gentle slope both sides, which is usable by everybody.”

In response to concerns about antisocial behaviour Mr Bennett said: “Underpasses are often associated with the dank, gloomy and oppressive tunnels we used to build after war.

“But on the continent they have shown that modern design can practically eliminate these problems, as we’ve tried to show in these concept designs.

“Here, we are proposing lots of natural light, clear sightlines and wide, open passageways.”

Monica Mehers, a bicycle user and carer from Bicester, said: “As a pensioner who relies heavily on their bicycle to get around, the concept designs look perfect for cyclists and pedestrians.

“An underpass would also be very accessible to wheelchair pushers such as myself.”

Jan Harvey, of Bicester Traffic Action Group, said: “We need viable plans to enable pedestrians, cyclists and mobility scooter users access to town and the new medical hub at Graven Hill.”

Bicester BUG will be submitting their concepts to EWR and asking the organisation to consider a pedestrian underpass in place of a bridge.


Read more from this author

This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Matthew.norman@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1

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