National Route 5 – 15 years on

Sustrans say “National Route 5 of the National Cycle Network is a long distance route which connects Reading and Holyhead via Oxford, Banbury, Stratford-upon-Avon…” But by all accounts, National Route 5 through Abingdon does not get the repairs or priority that the prestigious name National Route should merit.

It was opened back in the June 2000 when Mr John Disley, Oxfordshire County Council’s transport planner said “The network will dramatically improve cycling facilities and will contribute greatly to the county council’s objective for increasing cycle use.
National Route 5
The sign in the Abbey Meadow area still says”Changes planned in Abingdon town centre as part of Integrated Transport Strategy.” The cycling part of that strategy through the town centre never happened.
National Route 5
Signage is worse than 15 years ago. One of the signs on West St Helen Street is only visible to pedestrians, and faces the wrong way.
National Route 5
And if you do find your way from there to Lombard Street you are soon told to dismount.

Colin Walters, a town councillor between 2007-11 made strenuous efforts to make the route through town joined up with a proposed contra-flow at the top of East st Helen Street. It was turned down, on safety grounds, and no alternative has been put forward.
National Route 5
To make matters worse, a car is parked on the double yellow lines (on National Route 5) where a dropped kerb would allow access to the pavement for the mobility scooter. This is in a town that has 2 hours free parking.

10 thoughts on “National Route 5 – 15 years on

  1. daniel

    This is truely shocking and highlights a substantial issue that contributes detrimentally to previous posts…

    How can you have double yellow lines in a town like Abingdon!? Remove them; remove them all! Make it 30 mins, an hour and 2 hrs free on street parking everywhere. Improve the “pop-in-ability” factor.

    But then…the council officers who decide on what is best for our town are on the job…

  2. ppjs

    Double yellow lines are often put in for safety reasons, which is probably why they are outside the Co-op with the drop pavement for pedestrians. They are also used in an attempt to prevent obstructions and bottlenecks. They do have their appropriate purpose.

    Motorists are allowed to stop on yellow lines for not more than two minutes in order to pick up or put down pedestrians or (for example) to pop something through a door or into a post box. Many motorists have not read the Highway Code since the day when they took their driving test; too often, it shows…

    None of which explains the catalogue that the original posting raised in respect of the cycle trail.

    BTW, was the John Disley mentioned the former international athlete (steeplechaser)?

  3. Janet

    I certainly would not want to cycle around Abingdon. New towns like Milton Keynes are lucky in that they can plan safe cycle routes in the new build. As we all know the intent to build more houses in and around Abingdon will lead to more cars on the road in an extremely congested area.

  4. Elsie

    I aim to cycle to work in Milton Park from Abingdon once or twice a week. I use the Sustrans route; when I get to the end of Peep o Day Lane the quickest way to work is along the Milton Road. However, even with the recent speed restriction the road is really dangerous for a cyclist. Coming to the park through Sutton Courtney is a longer but slightly safer route apart from the right turn at the corner junction into the village – I’ve been caught out a few times with cars speeding around the corner when I’m half way across the junction. It’s very frustrating on my return journey not being able to cycle up East St Helen’s Street (although many do). It would be wonderful if the Sustrans route could be reviewed but I guess it’s not top of the OCC’s priorities.

  5. Margaret Robson

    You are right Daniel, it is truly shocking. Truly shocking that you don’t care about people, mostly, though not all old who need help to get around on mobility scooters.
    ppjs explained some of the reasons for having double yellow lines. From my perspective, badly parked vehicles too often inhibit and thereby extend my trips into town. I sometimes wonder why the same vehicles, parked in the same space, on the same double yellow lines are able to do so. Enforcement is clearly lax and should be tightened up.
    We have a lovely town and don’t want ignorant and arrogant motorists spoiling it.
    Mobility Madge

  6. Graham

    Elsie, I do the same journey to Milton Park and have also nearly been taken out at the bend you mention in Sutton Courtenay. Another troublesome manoeuvre is going the other way away from that same bend back towards Abingdon and turning right across the road to join the cycle path just as the 30mph speed limit ends. As well as accelerating vehicles there are some nasty potholes just as you need to glance over your shoulder to turn. Very tricky in the dark of winter!
    Agree with Mobility Madge too although it is not just mobility scooters that need the dropped kerbs of course.

  7. oxonchris

    PPJS – you are incorrect, you cannot stop on double yellow lines for any reason and certainly not for dropping off passengers. Double Yellow indicate no waiting at ANY TIME (sorry for caps as I can’t underline) dropping someone off or picking up is classed as ‘waiting’ therefore the offence is complete. Enforcement is a different issue and it is often down to the discretion of the enforcement officer if they decide to issue a penalty. I would hate to see anyone getting a fine based on incorrect information posted here.

  8. ppjs


    You make an interesting and fair point; The Highway Code states NO WAITING for double yellow lines, but NO STOPPING for double red lines.

    You may have knowledge that I do not possess, but stopping is different from waiting. I think that if you were to leave your car on double yellow lines, an enforcement officer would be justified in issuing a notice. If you were simply letting a passenger out (or picking one up), you would probably not be seen as waiting, but as stopping. “Waiting” suggest that you are staying for some time.

    I have not talked to Parking Wardens about this, but I have talked to police officers and magistrates who have suggested that common sense probably allows for a momentary pause of not more than a couple of minutes.

    Like you, I would not want anyone to be misled; and if a driver never stops on double yellow lines, she/he will not have to argue in court about the difference between stopping and waiting!

    My original comment was intended to be descriptive rather than prescriptive – that is to describe what may be possible rather than to prescribe what you should do.

    Apologies for any confusion!

  9. daniel

    @ Mobility Madge… I do care about people. What makes you think that I don’t?

    If there was less parking restrictions (where safe to do so – obviously!), then more cars would come and park in town and bring more people in to use the shops – even if to just “pop in for a pint of milk”.

    Why don’t you want the shops to thrive?

    Other than this – as batted back and fourth between ppjs and oxonchris…the stopping/waiting/enforcement laws are so disjointed, confusing, unjoined up…that tickets are written and people pay teh fines. As it goes, most parking enforcement by most councils is unenforcable; if people can be bothered to fight. But they don’t. So the fine just gets paid.

    Shame really.

  10. Margaret Robson

    Thanks Daniel, I’ll take that as an apology and please accept mine to you. If you advocate parking “everywhere it’s safe” the dropped kerbs would have double yellow lines, as would an area either side of them to allow a line of sight for approaching traffic. These would be some of the few places where the persistent double line parking offenders would naturally gravitate to. You can be sure all of the safe/legal spaces would fill up very quickly and bring even more congestion into the town centre. Maybe the retailers would benefit, maybe not.


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