My Urban Car

Oxford Car Ban review


In October 2017, the city of Oxford annouced its plans to improve air quality by curbing pollution from road traffic. The Oxford plan is different from any such plan elsewhere though:

  • the very small 2020 zone is expanded in 2025 and then again in 2030 to cover most of central Oxford
  • it bans diesel vehicles starting from 2020, sooner than any ban in the world (that wasn’t required by a court decision)
  • it bans petrol vehicles too
  • it bans all non-zero emission taxis, cars, light commercial vehicles and buses
  • Only HGVs are exempt – until 2035

So why has Oxford gone for the earliest fullest vehicle ban in the world?

The aim of this plan probably goes well beyond improving air quality. The fact is the beautiful centre of Oxford is plagued by traffic that gets in the way of students, locals and tourists who travel on foot and by bicycle. So while air quality is a driver for action being able to exclude over 99% of UK traffic is a bonus. Becoming a test early test bed for electrified traffic research wont do Oxford any harm either.


  • Reducing traffic pollution 10/10
  • Sending a clear message that more polluting vehicles have no future 10/10
  • A plan for other cities to adopt 3/10
  • Targeting only more polluting vehicles only 0/10



If the broader aim is to cut air pollution and transform the centre of Oxford then the plan should be very effective. In air quality terms alone it is a classic “sledge hammer to crack a nut” with no targetting at all. It could inspire cities that have relatively small zones where cars are more of a hindrance to pedestrians and cyclists than a benefit to follow suit. Bath? Part of the city of London financial district?



David Nicholson

David Nicholson Is the founder of Rivergecko Ltd & MyUrbanCar which provide consultancy and advice for drivers and fleets to speed the transition from dirty fossil fuel transport to clean vehicles powered by renewable energy on land water and air.

The @MyUrbanCar twitter feed is a source of news & reviews of electric & plugin cars and vans in the UK.
The @rivergecko twitter feed & websites bring news and opinion on cleantech transport including cars, vans, buses, trucks, shipping, rail & aviation as well as autonomous vehicles & renewable energy, air pollution & motor industry news.

David Nicholson has worked as an underwriter at Lloyd's of London since the 1980's. His interest in technology goes back many years including interactive mapping, apps, green tech, boats, solar and cars.