Cars will be banned from Europe’s busiest shopping street if proposals unveiled today by London Mayor Sadiq Khan go ahead.
The idea is to make about a kilometre of Oxford Street, from Oxford Circus west to Orchard Street, a "traffic-free pedestrian boulevard" by December next year, in time for the opening of Crossrail in central London.
"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," Khan said.
"Whether you’re a local resident, a business, or shop in some of the area’s famous stores, our plans will make the area substantially cleaner and safer for everyone, creating one of the finest public spaces in the world."
The cost of the work, estimated to be about £60m, would be paid for by Transport for London.
On average, half a million people visit Oxford Street each day (Ysandgkok/Creative Commons)
At present, buses, taxis and bicycles can dive along the length of the street, which is visited by some 500,000 people every day. During particularly busy periods, in the run-up to Christmas and during the January sales, it experiences the pedestrian equivalent of traffic jams, forcing more impatient shoppers to walk in the road.
The proposal is likely to be welcomed by retailers on the street, which includes a number of London’s largest department stores. Between 2005 and 2012, the street was traffic-free on one Saturday before Christmas, which became known as "Very Important Pedestrian" day. This boosted sales by over £17m in 2012.
The mayor also added that he would begin a consultation next year on pedestrianising the eastern section from Oxford Circus to Tottenham Court Road. This stretch would rely on new government and private sector funding.
Top image: The mayor’s rendering of how the street will look in the future