ALL VEHICLES will be banned from Oxford Street under radical plans to tackle air pollution. The western section of the central London street, home to some of the largest department stores in the country, will be pedestrianised by the end of next year. All east-west traffic will be banned from the half-mile stretch from Selfridges to Oxford Circus. Traffic is likely to be removed from the remainder by the end of 2021.
The measures, which will cost £60 million, will be implemented to coincide with the launch of Crossrail, the new east-west underground line, and is expected to lead to a big increase in visitors to central London.
The plans were announced last week by Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London. Other proposals to decrease traffic include a “toxic charge” that penalises drivers of the most polluting cars.
The mayor’s office said that a work of art could be commissioned for the middle of the carriageway when traffic was removed. New seating and trees will mirror traffic-free shopping spaces in Paris and New York. The plans will be the subject of a public consultation until the middle of next month. Mr Khan said: “Our plans will make the area substantially cleaner and safer for everyone.”
Cyclists will be forced to dismount under the scheme, and a consultation on new cycle routes along quieter roads to the north and south of Oxford Street will be held next summer. Taxi ranks would be created near by.
The mayor is likely to push ahead with plans to pedestrianise the main section of the road, to Tottenham Court Road, from 2019. A third section, west to Marble Arch, will be the last to be free of cars.
The measures were welcomed by environmental and business groups. Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: “Initiatives like this encourage people to walk, which not only cuts emissions but also helps people lower their risk of heart disease and stroke.”
This article first appeared in The Times