Boris Johnson has confirmed that officials are drawing up a range of proposals to improve public access and safety in Oxford Street, including potentially pedestrianising some or all of the street.
Oxford Street is one of the UK’s business shopping areas, drawing in millions of domestic and overseas visitors each year but campaigners have long argued that high levels of road traffic, including dozens of buses each hour, makes it dangerous for pedestrians.
Mr Johnson and Westminster Council have faced repeated calls to reduce vehicle numbers and/or pedestrianise the area in a bid to boost safety.
The latest call came in November when Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Stephen Knight presented a petition urging the Mayor and council “to remove all motor traffic from Oxford Street, introduce a zero emission shuttle bus, leading to full pedestrianisation of Oxford Street by 2020.”
Mr Knight recently described Oxford Street as “one of the most dangerous roads in the UK with the diesel fuelled buses and taxis that stutter along it producing the highest known concentrations of Nitrogen Dioxide anywhere in the world.
He also highlighted figures which show “one person is knocked down by traffic on Oxford Street every five days.”
Mr Johnson has now written to Mr Knight confirming that Transport for London and Westminster City Council officers are now “examining a range of options for improving the environment for pedestrians on Oxford Street.”
Options under consideration include “reducing traffic, widening footways, reducing and relocating bus stops and pedestrianisation.”
The Mayor says any proposals will need to be discussed with local traders and would be subject to public consultation.
Responding to the Mayor’s letter, Mr Knight said: “if Oxford Street and the West End is to remain a world class retail centre if must become a much safer and pleasant place to visit and that must mean moving towards permanent pedestrianisation.”