Oxford Street in London is Europe’s busiest shopping street and a mecca for many visitors, and plans have just been announced by Mayor Sadiq Khan around pedestrianising it. Transforming it will take place in stages, but the first section could become traffic-free by December 2018.
The west section of the road between Oxford Circus and Orchard Street would be the first to become virtually traffic-free by the end of 2018, the east from Oxford Circus to Tottenham Court Road by the end of 2019, and Marble Arch, post-2020. However, north and south routes across Oxford Street will be kept after concerns were raised by businesses and locals about gridlock on nearby side-streets. New seating areas and public spaces will be introduced for the convenience of the four million people who visit the street weekly, as per the artist’s impressions released.
Under the plan, new taxi ranks would be established close to Oxford Street so cabs can drop off and pick up shoppers, and cyclists would have to dismount on the pedestrianised stretches. Bus services will be removed from the street, and two routes will be relocated to the nearby area. The existing street will be raised to pavement level to make it more accessible, and new public art will be commissioned, including an 800 metre-long work piece to act as a centrepiece along the length of the pedestrianised section.
The idea is to prepare Oxford Street and the surrounding area for the significant increase in the number of pedestrians that will be brought into central London by the end of 2018 with the arrival of the Elizabeth railway line. The British government hopes to establish Oxford Street as a place for people rather than traffic, and address the existing issues that harm the area, including poor air quality, traffic congestion, traffic domination of streets and inadequate space for walking.
To read the full report on the plans for Oxford Street, see here.