After increasing pressure from those living and working in the area, plans to pedestrianise one of the busiest and most famous roads in London, Oxford Street, may finally become a reality by the end of 2018.
Why Pedestrianise Oxford Street?
The shopping district sees a staggering 3.5million people visiting each year and collectively, along Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street, £7.6bn comes back to the UK economy. By pedestrianising Oxford Street, the government hope to increase these figures, boosting visitors and therefore profits in the area.
It is also no secret that the amount of pollution on London’s streets is currently very problematic. This, coupled with the high number of collisions on the street, around 60 per year, and the evident over-crowding are further reasons for the decision to pedestrianise. What’s more, once the new Elizabeth line is complete on the London Underground system, crowding in the area is likely to increase even further.
As reported by City A.M., Mayor Sadiq Khan was the one to announce the initiative at the beginning of the month saying, “Oxford Street is world famous with millions of visitors every year, and in just over a year the iconic part of the street west of Oxford Circus could be transformed into a traffic-free pedestrian boulevard.
Whether you’re a local resident, a business, or shop in some of the area’s famous stores, our plans will make the area substantially cleaner and safer for everyone, creating one of the finest public spaces in the world.”
Changes to Transport
Pedestrianising will begin with all East-West traffic being restricted between Orchard Street and Oxford Circus. Once the Elizabeth line has opened, the area will also see the amount of buses reduced to just two routes; these will be limited to Wigmore Street, Henrietta Place and Cavendish Square. Cyclists will also have to dismount when entering the area, ensuring a slower, more pleasant pace for pedestrians.
Following concerns raised over accessibility to the area, particularly for the elderly and disabled, new taxi ranks will also be available near to Oxford Street for cabs to pick up and drop off customers. Transport for London (TfL) has also reassured customers that the Elizabeth line will also have full disability access.
As well as simply banning vehicles off the road, plans also include the widening of more than 2km of pavement, allowing pedestrians more space to walk and browse the shop windows. The inclusion of new seating along the street also helps to create a social environment where people can meet or stop to eat during their lunch breaks.
The overall transformation of Oxford Street is likely to be a three-phase process. The section between Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road will follow the first phase with the section between Marble Arch and Orchard Street completing the process. Funding is likely to come from a mix of local landowners and businesses as well as the government with the entire revamp aiming for a 2021 completion.