Oxfordshire's VTN is
Bladon Combe Hanborough Glympton Stonesfield Woodstock Wootton and Blenheim


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In January 2023, the Village Travel Network published its "Active Travel Plan."  You can read it here

In September 2023, Oxfordshire County Council committed to developing the Active Travel Plan into a Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) to be called the Woodstock Area LCWIP.  The Village Travel Network has submitted its response to OCC's initial audit and site visits and that response is published here.  We anticipate that the Woodstock Area LCWIP will now go to the Council's cabinet in Summer 2024 for formal approval.

The Blenheim Community Path is now OPEN!

On a rather dull, but thankfully dry morning, on Saturday 1st April 2023, Blenheim opened their much anticipated Community Path between Bladon and Hanborough.

In so many respects it lives up to all expectations.  Typically for the Blenheim Estates team nothng has been done by halves.  They really have created a wonderful new walking and cycling environment.  The landscape is stunning, the wildlife, flora and fauna is teeming with interest and the path is accessible for all.

It also offers a wonderful commute to Hanborough Railway Station.  To quote one regular traveller, "It's an absolute triumph and such a joy to cycle on.  I used it to get the train to work yesterday and arrived elated. "

Left to right:  VTN's Wootton representative Phil Parker in conversation with Blenheim's Roy Cox and Dom Hare

The path was opened by Blenheim CEO Dominic Hare, his Director of Estates Roy Cox and other members of the Blenheim Management team.  Also in attendence were members of the Village Travel Network team and representatives from Oxfordshire County Council's Active Travel team.  We all walked the path with much admiration, enjoyed tea and cakes at Bladon's Community Pub and then walked back.  A wonderful morning.

What does the acronym LCWIP stand for?

It stands for Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan.  A bit of a mouthful, but a simple enough concept.  The idea is to study an area, big or small, urban or rural, to analyse the existing travel patterns and to develop a long term plan that encourages more active travel by bike, on foot or using active travel and public transport, and then to design the capital infrastructure necessary to deliver on that plan.

LCWIPs have been up and running now for half a dozen years or more but, so far, they have mainly been developed for towns and cities.  In Oxfordshire the Oxford City LCWIP was drawn up and approved a couple of years ago and has now been followed by similar plans for Witney, Bicester, Abingdon and Didcot.  Now, the County Council is looking to the more rural areas.  The example set by the Village Travel network has prompted their scrutiny of a "Woodstock and Local Area" LCWIP as well as similar studies for Charlbury and Chipping Norton.  These studies are expected to get under way early in 2023. 

The VTN has submitted its Active Travel Plan as a comprehensive audit of cycling and walking issues in the six villages and expects that this will form the foundation for the County Council's ongoing work on its LCWIP.

Marlborough School Kids Bike to School through Blenheim

Marlboroughh school children cycling to school through Blenheim Park following a ground breaking agreement between Stonesfild Parish Councillor Mick Heduan and Blenheim Estates Director Roy Cox - both members of the VTN

At a recent meeting of the Village Travel Network and Blenheim Estates a more collaborative approach was agreed in order to create better connectivity across the seven villages.

  • Blenheim agreed to a joint press release that covers a collaborative approach and positions them as a stakeholder.
  • A cycling initiative was agreed, subject to identifying a suitable route. This could be used as a 'proof of concept activity' and may not be a complete route but raises the profile of the project's long term environmental and eco-friendly credentials. 
  • Blenheim agreed to provide some funding to cover the mapping of potential routes.
  • Possible use of the Blenheim magazine to cover VTN development updates .
  • It was suggested Hanborough Station could be renamed 'Hanborough (for Blenheim Palace & Woodstock) 
  • Blenheim keen to be a key stakeholder participant on the VTN project.
  • The impact of the VTN on a major visitor attraction like Blenheim Palace could define environmental best practice for other major visitor sites in the UK. 
  • Mapping potential connectivity routes was seen as as a priority to uncover existing and potential opportunities. 

Other News

January 2022 saw the Government Launch of its new Highway Code aimed at improving safety for Pedestrians, Cyclists, Equestrians and all vulnerable road users.

The new Highway Code: 8 changes you need to know

1. Hierarchy of road users

The hierarchy places those road users most at risk in the event of a collision at the top of the hierarchy. It does not remove the need for everyone to behave responsibly.

It’s important that all road users:

  • are aware of The Highway Code
  • are considerate to other road users
  • understand their responsibility for the safety of others

2. People crossing the road at junctions

The updated code clarifies that:

  • when people are crossing or waiting to cross at a junction, other traffic should give way
  • if people have started crossing and traffic wants to turn into the road, the people crossing have priority and the traffic should give way
  • people driving, riding a motorcycle or cycling must give way to people on a zebra crossing and people walking and cycling on a parallel crossing

3. Walking, cycling or riding in shared spaces

Routes and spaces which are shared by people walking, cycling and riding horses.

People cycling, riding a horse or driving a horse-drawn vehicle should respect the safety of people walking in these spaces, but people walking should also take care not to obstruct or endanger them.

People cycling are asked to:

  • not pass people walking, riding a horse or driving a horse-drawn vehicle closely or at high speed, particularly from behind
  • slow down when necessary and let people walking know they are there (for example, by ringing their bell)
  • remember that people walking may be deaf, blind or partially sighted
  • not pass a horse on the horse’s left

4. Positioning in the road when cycling

  • riding in the centre of their lane on quiet roads, in slower-moving traffic and at the approach to junctions or road narrowings
  • keeping at least 0.5 metres (just over 1.5 feet) away from the kerb edge (and further where it is safer) when riding on busy roads with vehicles moving faster than them

People cycling in groups

The updated code explains that people cycling in groups:

  • should be considerate of the needs of other road users when riding in groups
  • can ride 2 abreast - and it can be safer to do so, particularly in larger groups or when accompanying children or less experienced riders

People cycling are asked to be aware of people driving behind them and allow them to overtake (for example, by moving into single file or stopping) when it’s safe to do so.

People cycling passing parked vehicles

The updated code explains that people cycling should:

  • take care when passing parked vehicles, leaving enough room (a door’s width or 1 metre) to avoid being hit if a car door is opened
  • watch out for people walking into their path

5. Overtaking when driving or cycling

You may cross a double-white line if necessary (provided the road is clear) to overtake someone cycling or riding a horse if they are travelling at 10 mph or less (Rule 129).

There is updated guidance on safe passing distances and speeds for people driving or riding a motorcycle when overtaking vulnerable road users, including:

  • leaving at least 1.5 metres (5 feet) when overtaking people cycling at speeds of up to 30mph, and giving them more space when overtaking at higher speeds
  • passing people riding horses or driving horse-drawn vehicles at speeds under 10 mph and allowing at least 2 metres (6.5 feet) of space
  • allowing at least 2 metres (6.5 feet) of space and keeping to a low speed when passing people walking in the road (for example, where there’s no pavement)

Wait behind them and do not overtake if it’s unsafe or not possible to meet these clearances.

People cycling passing slower-moving or stationary traffic

The updated code confirms that people cycling may pass slower-moving or stationary traffic on their right or left.

They should proceed with caution as people driving may not be able to see them. This is particularly important:

  • on the approach to junctions
  • when deciding whether it is safe to pass lorries or other large vehicles

6. People cycling at junctions

The code has been updated to clarify that when turning into or out of a side road, people cycling should give way to people walking who are crossing or waiting to cross.

There is new advice about new special cycle facilities at some junctions.

Some junctions now include small cycle traffic lights at eye-level height, which may allow cyclists to move separately from or before other traffic. People cycling are encouraged to use these facilities where they make their journey safer and easier.

There is also new guidance for people cycling at junctions with no separate facilities.

The code recommends that people cycling should proceed as if they were driving a vehicle where there are no separate cyclist facilities. This includes positioning themselves in the centre of their chosen lane, where they feel able to do this safely. This is to:

  • make them as visible as possible
  • avoid being overtaken where this would be dangerous

People cycling turning right

The code now includes advice for people cycling using junctions where signs and markings tell them to turn right in 2 stages. These are:

  • stage 1 - when the traffic lights turn green, go straight ahead to the location marked by a cycle symbol and turn arrow on the road, and then stop and wait
  • stage 2 - when the traffic lights on the far side of the junction (now facing the people cycling) turn green, complete the manoeuvre

People cycling have priority when going straight ahead at junctions

The code clarifies that when people cycling are going straight ahead at a junction, they have priority over traffic waiting to turn into or out of a side road, unless road signs or markings indicate otherwise.

People cycling are asked to watch out for people driving intending to turn across their path, as people driving ahead may not be able to see them.

7. People cycling, riding a horse and driving horse-drawn vehicles on roundabouts

The code has been updated to clarify that people driving or riding a motorcycle should give priority to people cycling on roundabouts. The new guidance will say people driving and or riding a motorcycle should:

  • not attempt to overtake people cycling within that person’s lane
  • allow people cycling to move across their path as they travel around the roundabout

The code already explained that people cycling, riding a horse and driving a horse-drawn vehicle may stay in the left-hand lane of a roundabout when they intend to continue across or around the roundabout.

Guidance has been added to explain that people driving should take extra care when entering a roundabout to make sure they do not cut across people cycling, riding a horse or driving a horse-drawn vehicle who are continuing around the roundabout in the left-hand lane.

8. Parking, charging and leaving vehicles

The code recommends a new technique when leaving vehicles. It’s sometimes called the ‘Dutch Reach’.

Where people driving or passengers in a vehicle are able to do so, they should open the door using their hand on the opposite side to the door they are opening. For example, using their left hand to open a door on their right-hand side.

This will make them turn their head to look over their shoulder behind them. They’re then less likely to cause injury to:

  • people cycling or riding a motorcycle passing on the road
  • people on the pavement

Using an electric vehicle charge point

For the first time, the code includes guidance about using electric vehicle charging points.

When using one, people should:

  • park close to the charge point and avoid creating a trip hazard for people walking from trailing cables
  • display a warning sign if you can
  • return charging cables and connectors neatly to minimise the danger to other people and avoid creating an obstacle for other road users

Further details from https://www.gov.uk/government/news/the-highway-code-8-changes-you-need-to-know-from-29-january-2022