Local council proposes new partial traffic ban plan for Oxford Street
The cancellation of the Mayor of London-backed Oxford Street pedestrianisation plan has been followed up by a new strategy from the local authority that controls the area, Westminster City Council.
The new plan doesn't include pedestrianisation but it does aim to significantly reduce the number of buses on Europe's busiest shopping street, while also banning taxis and cars at peak times.
That strategy aims to address the heavy pollution levels in the area, to cut down on the bumper-to-bumper bus traffic jams that are a feature of the daily traffic on Oxford Street, and to make the overall environment more pleasant for shoppers.
The council is suggesting a maximum of four bus routes along Oxford Street and that the buses should be zero emission-only. And it's also talking about banning cars from noon until early evening, although it's not sure how big an impact this will make as cars are already not supposed to travel down large parts of the street at those times (although many do).
Interestingly, the proposals also include a possible ban for taxis at the same time, and this would have an impact as they're currently permitted along the entire length of the street and their diesel fumes add to the pollution there. But there could be opposition here too as the taxi lobby has a loud voice in London.
The council’s £150 million vision recognises the pressing need to do something about Oxford Street but continues to reject the Mayoral partial pedestrianisation option that it had originally backed.
It withdrew its support for that plan after meeting overwhelming opposition from local residents who were concerned that diverting traffic from a large and busy street would put heavy pressure on the already congested surrounding streets.
The problem of traffic on Oxford Street has rumbled on for years and was a huge talking point for much of the last century, even before the time it originally became a largely bus and taxi-only zone several decades ago. In many ways it's a problem that's almost impossible to solve. While visitors to the street largely support the idea of pedestrianisation, as mentioned, the opposition of those who live and work in the area means that’s not an easy option.
Shoppers coming out of stores loaded down with bags and unable to hop onto a bus or into a taxi, or finding themselves stuck in a traffic jam in a neighbouring street, might also reduce their support for an outright traffic ban.
Regardless of what happens, the problem remains that Westminster City Council may be talking up its proposals, but a Mayoral spokesman said those proposals are largely accepting the status quo and might not have enough long-term impact.
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