London’s new mayor Sadiq Khan has announced that Oxford Street, the city’s teeming hub of shopping, will become a vehicle-free zone by 2020.
This is a move matching the new mayor’s pledges to tackle London’s air pollution as a serious concern. Whilst London has repeatedly exceeded the EU’s legal limits for air pollution in recent years, Oxford Street was found to be the most polluted street in the world in one 2014 study.
Khan’s office has announced that the 1.2 mile stretch, from Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street tube stations, will transition to its vehicle-free state in phases, beginning with the East side near Oxford Circus.
Cars are already banned from this strip between 7am-7pm except on Sundays, but it is still subject to the substantial traffic of numerous taxis and 270 buses daily. The diesel fuel powering many of these vehicles has contributed to record levels of harmful nitrogen dioxide emissions.
These plans coincide with the opening of the new Crossrail, an east-west train line currently under construction. The line has stations due to open at Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street by the end of 2018, which is predicted to encourage higher numbers of shoppers along this area.
This positive step to address urban air pollution in one of Europe’s biggest cities follows the mayor of Paris’ recent decision to ban old and inefficient vehicles within the French capital.