The charity London Living Streets has called for Oxford Street, one of the UK’s busiest pedestrian areas, to be made entirely free of motor traffic.
Along with representatives of Oxford Street retailers and property owners, in the form of the New West End Company, they have called for Central London’s premier shopping destination to be ‘given back to the shoppers’ according to the Living Streets website. The position of cycle access in any traffic-free plan remains unclear.
Research from London Living Streets conducted at the end of 2007 found 68% of the public feel that all motor traffic should be permanently removed from Oxford Street.
Simon Barnett of London Living Streets, talking exclusively to BikeRadar, summed up progress so far, saying “I believe the tide is beginning to turn in our favour. The New West End Company is talking about the initial measure of success being the removal of buses. That would still leave several key issues for Westminster Council to deal with, such as taxi access and how to get pedestrians along the 2 mile length of Oxford Street. A tram is one solution being looked at”.
Richard Dickinson, Chief Executive Officer of New West End Company believed many sections of society thought it a sound idea too; “Londoners want this and the retailers want this – which is why we’re calling for the removal of half the traffic from Oxford Street by 2010 and a traffic-free street by 2012.”
There have been one-off car-free shopping days on Oxford Street in the past and even proposals to install elevated walkways to cope with the anticipated increase in visitors during the 2012 Olympics. Currently most private cars are banned from Oxford Street but cyclists are allowed to use the bus lanes. The issue of cyclist access should full pedestrianisation go ahead would ‘remain to be decided on’ should motor traffic be banned said Barnett.