Londoners have “hailed” plans to turn Oxford Street into a pedestrianised boulevard like the shopping districts of New York and Paris by Christmas 2017. The section between Oxford Circus and Orchard Street will be the first to become predominantly traffic-free while north and south routes across Oxford Street will be retained. This is due to business and residents in the area raising concerns about gridlock on nearby streets. The plans will also see cyclists being forced to dismount as they enter the stretch.
The proposal for a traffic-free Western section will include new seating areas and raising the existing street to pavement levels, making it more accessible. It could also be accompanied by an 800-metre-long work of public art to act as a centrepiece along the whole pedestrianised section. There will also be new public spaces, cycle lanes, improved pedestrian crossings, wider pavements and taxi ranks across the widened West End.
The number of buses going through Oxford Street has been reduced by 40% and will be cut further when Crossrail opens. However, with new taxi ranks being set up, the number of taxis in the area is expected to increase by 20%.
“This is a hugely exciting moment for the capital,” Sadiq Khan said. “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.
The first pedestrianised section will come in with the launch of the new Elizabeth line services through central London in December 2018. The Mayor and Westminster City Council will also begin a consultation next year on pedestrianising the section towards Tottenham Court Road.