As part of the battle against Covid-19, the local council has been given money to encourage walking and cycling and is proposing to install “modal filters” to reduce the number of cars and vans on four local roads.

Maggie from Neighbourhood Watch is incandescent. The resident’s association has embarked on an industrial strength leafleting campaign. The local councillor has issued a counter-leaflet where, after a passing nod to the Covid initiative, he explains that it’s actually a great opportunity to push through a failed pet traffic-calming scheme from a few years back.

None of this affects me personally, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t smell a rat.

Encouraging people to walk and cycle is laudable. However, it’s not clear how this proposal is going to achieve it. Surely, motorists are just going to take a different route?

People who are going to cycle in Oxford are likely to be doing it already and, in practice, many will tend to switch between cycling and other modes of transport depending on the weather. In any case, making side roads safer isn’t going to make main roads safer.

And if you want to make things safer for pedestrians, stop people cycling on pavements.

Traffic calming is also laudable, but I would argue that this should go through the normal democratic process rather than sneaking it in disguised as something else in the hope that it will be seen as a done deal when it comes up for review.

Spending large amounts of public money without any supporting evidence, simply because it’s there, is simply irresponsible.