Slide Traffic Filters Oxford Skyline Background Traffic
Oxford Skyline Background

Traffic filters are sometimes called modal filters, because they encourage different modes of transport such as cycling or walking.

They can be operational full or part time, and can take different forms, for example as bollards, as large planters that restrict access, or as traffic cameras that use Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) to allow only certain types of traffic to pass through.

Traffic filters are also sometimes called bus gates, but this is a confusing name because a physical gate is rarely used to filter or restrict traffic, and roads which don’t have any buses can have also traffic filters, for example to prevent ‘rat running’.

The aim of all traffic filters is to ease congestion and create routes or neighbourhoods that aren’t dominated by traffic. For example, new traffic filters outside the city centre would help remove traffic congestion along the B4495 and ensure bus routes through the area are fast and reliable.

There would also be bus lanes in other places along the bus routes where necessary and as space allows.

Because of the historical nature of Oxford and its narrow streets, simply building new roadspace is not an option. Other ways to reduce traffic congestion and create space for alternative forms of transport apart from cars have to be found, which is why transport schemes and solutions are all so interconnected in our city.

Oxford City Bus passing through a traffic filter

Why are traffic filters being considered in Oxford?

Traffic filters can transform an area so that it is no longer dominated by vehicles, is quieter and cleaner, and has more space for walking and cycling or even playing.

As the Covid-19 lockdown demonstrated, people are keen to walk or cycle more where they can, which is why traffic filters can help to transform our health and environment.

Oxford City Centre already operates a number of filters at High Street, George Street, and Castle Street where the streets are now pedestrianised.

These filters are an important part of Connecting Oxford because they help to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality and support ways of travelling across Oxford which don’t involve using a car.

In the two years after the traffic filters were introduced in Oxford, traffic reduced by around 60% in Oxford High Street, around 40% on Magdalen Bridge, and around 20% in the city centre overall.

Who will have access through a traffic filter in Oxford?

Buses, cyclists, taxis and private hire vehicles, and all emergency vehicles, are generally allowed to pass through traffic filters.

There may also be exemptions for other vehicles such as motorbikes. If you would like to know more about traffic filter plans or exemptions, or be involved in any future consultations or public discussions please let us know by going to: register views and news.

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

The health benefits of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) are well researched and three LTNs are planned in Oxford as part of a pilot scheme. Like all the schemes in the Connecting Oxford plan they play an important part in reducing pollution and providing practical alternatives to car journeys by allowing more space for cycling and walking.

You can read more about the pilot schemes by going to these pages: low traffic neighbourhoods. The consultation about the three low traffic neighbourhoods in the Cowley area of Oxford closed in December 2020 but you can register to be informed about any other consultations which might happen by going to: register views and news.

Would traffic filters work in Oxford?

Traffic filters in Oxford would reduce the number of vehicles taking up valuable space on the roads which has a number of advantages:

  • buses will be able to flow freely, even in places where there is no road space for bus lanes;

  • less traffic pollution and noise;

  • wider, segregated cycle lanes to allow for all abilities of cyclist;

  • safer, more pleasant walking and cycling environment;

  • essential vehicles will be able move around the city more easily.

To reduce the number of motor vehicle trips into and through the city centre and in the Eastern Arc, the following new traffic filters are currently being proposed:

  • on Hythe Bridge Street or Worcester Street, between Frideswide Square and Beaumont Street;

  • on St Cross Road or South Parks Road, between Parks Road and Manor Road;

  • on Thames Street or Oxpens Road:

  • on Marston Ferry Road;

  • on Hollow Way.