Build Back Fairer - a new series of events addressing inequalities of access to Oxfordshire's public space.

Active Oxfordshire is delighted to launch a new series of events to bring multi-sector partners together and consider how we might address inequalities of access to our streets, parks and other public spaces to shape Oxfordshire as a happier and healthier place.

About the Build Back Fairer series

Access to public spaces has long been recognised to produce positive health, environmental, economic, and social outcomes for residents who can access them.

The COVID-19 pandemic made these benefits increasingly obvious, leading to increased use of our streets, parks, and other open spaces – even repurposing car parks – as places for people to gather, exercise, socialise and access services.

There has been a call to 'Build Back Better', but as with the unequal impact of Covid-19 on widening social, economic, environmental and health inequalities, Active Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire Liveable Streets, and other local partners are launching a 'Build Back Fairer' series of events which will take place over the next six months.

(The Build Back Fairer series is part of Active Oxfordshire's commitment to a Healthy Place Shaping approach – for more information on Healthy Place Shaping in Oxfordshire click here)

The next Build Back Fairer event

Build Back Fairer: Building female-friendly(safe) streets in Oxfordshire

Thursday 9th June 2022

In collaboration with West Oxfordshire District Council and using the Women's Tour in Oxfordshire the event will highlight how to make our streets safer for women to walk and cycle.

You can register for the event here.

Building female-friendly(safe) streets in Oxfordshire

On June 9th, in the run-up to Oxfordshire's hosting of the final leg of the Womens' Tour, we will partner will local groups to host 'Build Back Fairer': Building female-friendly(safe) streets in Oxfordshire. Matt Roebuck, our Healthy Place Shaping Partner looks at why this is important.

On June 11th, Oxfordshire's streets will host a safety 'bubble with… world class riders at the centre of it' for one of the world's most prestigious cycling events the Women's Tour. Unfortunately, many women are put off walking, cycling, wheeling or just spending time moving through our county's public spaces, because they do not feel that kind of safety.

After 5 women have been involved in fatal accidents involving HGV's, while cycling in Oxford in the past 2 years, a pattern of additional vulnerability linked to gender has been identified both in London and across the UK. Inevitably this has led to anecdotal evidence of women in Oxford reconsidering whether they feel safe cycling around Oxford.

It's not just barriers to women cycling that are formed by infrastructure and societal issues across our city, county, country. As part of a recent research project, children from East Oxford Secondary School were asked about what helped them spend time in parks or other green spaces. Nearly half replied 'that it was easy to get there by myself – an important factor for an age group with no access to a car. Nearly 1 in 3 girls said the 'place feels safe' with 1 in 5 adding it must be 'safe to get there by myself', both these rates were higher than the equivalent male response.

At our last Build Back Fairer Session [watch here], co-hosted by Active Oxfordshire and Oxfordshire Liveable Streets, we heard from Sheffield's Our Bodies, Our Streets who saw a motion passed by Sheffield City Council to challenge the "systemic and everyday culture of harassment" that women face on our streets and to address this through both evidence-led, co-designed infrastructure and addressing the wider cultural issues of misogyny.

Female-friendly streets, aren't just about safety, there are numerous other imbalances and inequities in the way we design our built environment to support active travel. As Melissa and Chris Bruntlett wrote in Curbing Traffic: The Human Case for Fewer Cars in our Lives, "Although responsibility for care work has shifted… the division of labor continues to rest largely on the shoulders of women…the danger in not considering care work and the trips required to perform it…is that the needs of a significant portion of the population are left unmet...One of the most common characteristics of care trips is they regularly involve a combination of numerous shorter trips and multiple stops [and] our transportation systems are not planned with multiple stops in mind." What this means is we that when we think of active travel, we prioritise the commuter routes over the everyday, family and community focused travel.

It doesn't have to be like this. As the graph from Mobycon shows below, women aged 65-74 are more likely to cycle than any adult male age category and indeed adult women cycle more than men overall.

At our Build Back Fairer session we'll hear from transport planner, expert panel member and part of the consortium for Active Travel England Lucy Marstrand on gender in road design, local walkers and cyclists and from Cyclox on Vision Zero.

Hopefully, this session will inspire conversation, collaboration and action on making this happen. What steps can we take to bring this future closer? Should we prepare a similar motion to Our Bodies, Our Streets for Oxfordshire; should we support new community Bicycle Mayors for Oxford and our major market towns to champion those who would like to walk or cycle but currently face barriers? Or are there other things we can and should do? Be that in the power of local authorities, local businesses or local people.

If you'd like to take some immediate personal steps to help improve the travel experiences and safety for women and girls, please complete this short survey that explores women and girls different lived experiences of everyday transport. Responses will help inform future Innovate UK funding calls and opportunities. Those completing it, can opt in to win one of three £100 Wiggle or Waterstones' vouchers, or to donate to a charity of your choice.