In case you missed it, the London Assembly is calling for ideas on how to tackle the congestion in the West End’s major shopping destinations of Oxford Street, Regent Street and the surrounding areas.
As Assembly Member Victoria Borwick noted last week, there are a number of schemes and ideas from various experts designed to tackle the problem but the Assembly is also very keen to hear the experiences and thoughts of shoppers, commuters and local residents.
Personally I’m always amazed at the complexity of solutions offered, I know many people are in favour of some form of tram running down Oxford street but the likely disruption and cost – especially while some of the lower end of Oxford Street is affected by the work for Crossrail – strike me as untenable.
Why couldn’t we do something cheaper and simpler? Why can’t we convert the myriad of bus routes which currently run down the road into a single Oxford Street shopping bus? Running only up and down the one street, this new route could use wholly or partially electric powered buses – at a stroke helping Boris’s stated desire to make London a world leader in electric vehicles – and even be free to use if the traders could be convinced to find some sponsorship money.
Unless I’ve read wrongly, the focus seems entirely on vehicles, but someone also needs to be looking into the crushing wall of pedestrians such as where Oxford and Regent Streets meet.
As a regular visitor to the West End I get to enjoy it on those relatively rare quiet days and suffer on others when it feels as if the whole of London has descended onto just a few streets. A couple of weeks back I witnessed a group which included a wheelchair user trying to make their way through the crowds and onto Regent Street. It was clear that they found the experience pretty unpleasant.
There are a couple of side streets which allow one to bypass the crowds and emerge unscathed by the bus stops in Regent Street but I wonder if more couldn’t be done to make it obvious to visitors that they’re alternatives to the heaving crowds?
Certainly some of them look pretty unattractive – a clean up and some tourist-friendly signage would help, or perhaps some money could be found in the kitty for some TfL funded wardens to helpfully point people towards less crowded routes?
If you too have a sketchy and uncosted idea about how to tackle the West End’s congestion you can email it to firstname.lastname@example.org