The main shopping street in London will have its western side converted into a pedestrian artistic area. The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, unveiled the plans to act on traffic detouring from Oxford Street by the end of next year. These new traffic restrictions will aid the busy street to become a pedestrian-friendly area.
The released images display the pedestrian-friendly area spreading across from Selfridges to Oxford Circus. The area will comprise vivid paintings on the walkways and on the walls.
“This is a hugely exciting moment for the capital,” commented Khan. “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.”
Oxford street is famous for being the busiest shopping street in Europe as it embraces a public flow that mounts up to 500,000 pedestrians/day. At the time being, the pedestrians are jammed with traffic in only two lanes.
The new proposal will have the buses detoured and the cab parking spaces extended. Additionally, the street will be raised up to be on the same level with the walkway, rendering it beneficial for the handicapped. Bicycles are not allowed to be ridden in the area, but rather cyclists will have independent cycling pathways along less busy neighboring streets.
A group of communal plazas will be erected on Oxford Street among greenery and public seats. A huge piece of communal art, 800 meters in length, will line the new area.
The government’s desire for this new transformation dates back to many years ago, in view of the jammed walkways, the polluted air, and the frequent car crashes. Mayor Khan stated that every seven days, a pedestrian was injured in a car crash on Oxford Street, between January 2012 and September 2015. In May 2016, a pedestrian was killed in a crash.
Previous trials, to make the street more friendly to pedestrians, included shorts periods of time that were usually around weekends and Christmas. The new proposal was based on these past trials to transform the street to be a safe place for the public and a great attraction for the visitors.
Also, the proposed traffic restrictions will address the high air pollution levels which caused the street to be on the list of the most polluted routes in the world.
Moreover, the new transformation will make the area ready for the new Elizabeth Line (Crossrail line) which will be inaugurated in 2018 and is expected to attract more people to the expansive zone.
The government is also inspecting other projects to improve the functionality of the London Underground stations at Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road. This comes as just a phase of many to follow taken by Transport for London (TfL) which regards the project as an “unprecedented level of investment in central London“.
In April 2017, TfL announced that it needed consultations regarding the future of the street and 12,000 proposals were admitted. Receiving consultations will close in December 2017.
The project will be established in three separate phases. The western side of the street is slated to finish in winter, 2018. The eastern side that resides between the Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Circus will be free of traffic starting December 2019. The last stage will involve Marble Arch, after which the street will be completely populated by pedestrians with no sign of automobiles.
The project will be funded by the private sector as well as the British government and it is expected to cost around £60 million. This comes after terminating Thomas Heatherwick’s Garden Bridge of London due to its skyrocketing costs and the public disdain.