Inside the street where locals make themselves into HUMAN BOLLARDS in war to stop selfish drivers | The Sun

FRUSTRATED residents have turned themselves into "human bollards" in a bid to stop selfish drivers treating their cars like weapons on their busy street.

However, they have clashed with university students who protested that they wanted to be able to drive around the area where they also live.

The clash of opinions resulted in a day of action by "locals" who stubbornly stood in the street in Oxford, defying motorists from entering the area.

Measures taken by the Oxford City Council to put up barriers in support of the older residents have been repeatedly vandalised, set on fire or smashed down by angry drivers wanting to use the road.

On Wednesday dozens of residents of posh Divinity Road stood in front of a BMW driver trying to go through a no-drive-through zone in the quiet residential area of the city.

A video of the demonstration, posted on Twitter by pro-LTN (Low Traffic Noise) pressure group Oxfordshire Liveable Streets, shows a group of people standing in the road to prevent cars passing through an LTN traffic filter, where a bollard had been removed.

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However, on Thursday the road was deserted but it was revealed that the problem has been simmering with fierce opinions on both sides of the argument.

Retired economist Patrick Gray OBE said: "This road used to be called Divinity Road and it has now turned into Divinity Motorway – if this was a village it would have had a bypass by now.

"There are a group of young men who drive up and down the road at 45mph  and for old people, that's very frightening. There was so much traffic before and almost every day there was a blockage of two dozen cars.

"I have lived here since 1975 and we are a community – we understand people have got to get about, but pedestrians and cyclists should be able to get around too.

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"When the LTN was first introduced, there was a period where a group of people tried to sabotage it. There were solid bollards there but they were broken off and smashed up. Cones kept getting put up and bollards replaced but then they are taken away.

"This road has always been prime territory for better-off students at Oxford Brookes University. I'm not sure why, but there has always been a community of them here.

"The first years arrived with the great big cars mummy has given them and within a week or two a group of young men in high-performance cars started driving around in a more threatening way – taking photos of people and telling them 'I know where you live.'


"They know that it's against the law but were very effective in taking all the notices down – as a part of this programme of organised vandalism, they stole all the bollards and the signs."

Discussing Wednesday's protest, the 75-year-old resident who was present at it, added: "There were several old people standing in the road just talking – that area has become a bit of a village pump – they told a driver he couldn't go through and he started filming them.

"He pressed his car horn for seven or eight minutes. During that time, a number of people – including him – called the police and said there had been a disorder. I don't believe at any time there was a threat to anyone, other than that he drove up to someone's knees and pushed with his car.

"I don't believe a car should be used as a weapon – someone who has enough money to get a big car like that has enough sense to know that is wrong. The police arrived and spoke to everyone involved.

"This was people overreacting – there were probably about eight people that were trying to stop him but the students opened their windows and played their radios and turned it all into a party. It was a slightly comical mess, not a battle."


Another resident, who wished not to be named, said: "The guy who was stopped by the human bollard had his hand on the car horn constantly, just making a point and that's why so many people came out.

"Strangely enough, my daughter messaged me from Bethnal Green to tell me that it had all kicked off outside my house – social media travels fast. A lot of people say 'I own a car, I pay my road taxes, I can go where I want on roads,' but it's illegal apart from emergency vehicles.

"It's dangerous as the children here were getting used to not having traffic, until the cat-and-mouse game of hiding and removing the bollards until the council didn't have any more. It was unfortunate to tell the children that it's back to traffic."

The 72-year-old former AIDS charity worker added: "I feel great sympathy for people who have to go around house-to-house for work, such as plumbers and electricians, but if we plan our routes we can work around our barriers – it's usually no more than five or 10 minutes.

"Over this summer the students weren't here and it was really quiet, but since people have come back since September it has got a bit more tricky. I think there's quite a well-orchestrated anti-LTN group and they were planning tactics and things to remove bollards.

"Other LTNs in the area have had trouble too. I don't know who they are, but there are also very, very pro-LTN people who move the cones back, but they don't help as they just get moved again."

One Oxford Brookes student, who asked not to be named, said: "I've lived in this area since September. I think the LTN is a bit pointless as it doesn't stop people driving, it just makes more traffic elsewhere. The residents only don't like it because it's on their front door.

"The residents are very aggressive, they are obviously retired and have nothing better to do other than beef about students because they don't like them, even though they live in a student area.

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"It's not just students moving the cones, I know I saw one delivery driver move them and had people screaming at them too. I think it's probably just drunk students moving the cones."

Resident Jerry Campbell said: "As a commuter, it's a nightmare. Buses are still expensive, and it's p***ing commuters off. If they are going to reduce the roads the buses need to be cheaper – you can't put an LTN in place without any mitigation."

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