- A large part of London’s Oxford Street could go car-free by 2018.
- The initiative is part of a larger project — projected to cost nearly $US70 million — to ban cars entirely from Oxford Street.
- Several other cities around the world are making similar efforts to turn their centres into pedestrian-only zones.
Around half a mile of London’s Oxford Street — from Oxford Circus to Orchard Street — could go car-free by December 2018, under plans by
Mayor Sadiq Khan.
Transport for London, the city’s transit agency, has called Oxford Street “Europe’s busiest retail street.” Located in Westminster in London’s West End, Oxford Street attracts more than 500,000 daily visitors.
If the plans are approved, they would turn a large part of Oxford Street into a pedestrian-only zone, according to the BBC.
The city hopes to commission a 2,625-footlong mural to be painted on the road, along with public art suspended overhead. The proposal calls for new public plazas with trees, benches, and 25 pedestrian crossings.
The road would be raised to the same level as the footpaths, making the boulevard more accessible for wheelchair users and strollers. Buses would also be re-routed, and cyclists would not be able to ride in the area. The city might later install new bike lanes along quieter side streets.
Kahn said he hopes the plans will be put in place around the time a new Crossrail line, called the Elizabeth Line, opens in late 2018.
The plan is part of a larger effort to ban cars entirely from Oxford Street by 2021, with the goal of reducing traffic, air pollution, and pedestrian accidents. The project is projected to total nearly $US70 million.
In late 2014, Khan said that the city center plans to ban diesel cars by 2020. Currently, London discourages the use of diesel engines in some areas of the city by charging a “congestion charge” of $US12.50 per day for cars that enter during peak hours. In July, Britain as a whole announced that it would ban sales of new diesel and gas cars by 2040.
Other cities around the world are making similar moves to go car-free or at least lower reliance on gas and diesel. Madrid, Spain plans to ban cars from 500 acres of its city center by 2020, with urban planners redesigning 24 of the city’s busiest streets for walking rather than driving. Drivers who ignore the new regulations will pay a fine of at least $US100, and diesel and gas-powered cars will pay more to park.
In October, Paris City Hall said it plans to ban gas- and diesel-fuelled cars from the city by 2030. Amd tp make it harder for cars to get to Oslo’s center, the city plans to ban all 650 on-street parking spaces this year. In July, Norway also confirmed that it will phase out diesel and gas-powered cars nationwide by 2025.
Like these efforts, London hopes to turn Oxford Street into a car-free public space.
“This is a hugely exciting moment for the capital,” Khan said in a statement.