Photo / Jon Smalldon
It’s not a new idea. Nearly a decade ago, local traders came up with a plan to segregate pedestrians on the shopping thoroughfare. Operation Tugboat, as the plan was endearingly named, was aimed at reducing “pavement rage”, a palpable problem in those innocent new millennial days, betwixt the phony fear of Y2K and the new world order created by 9/11.
The proposal faded from view, but the NWEC thinks it worth exploring. Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas, chair of the group, says that, as Crossrail will bring an additional 50 million visitors annually, there is a pressing need to address pedestrian traffic. She claims that a segregated system would be particularly attractive to Londoners tired of being stuck behind a languid waddle of bag-laden shoppers.
However, it’s impossible to see how the speed lanes would be managed. Operation Tugboat proposed fining people £10 for dawdling in the wrong lane, which would put London on a par with the petty smalltown American cop who enjoys handing out tickets for jaywalking. Yet without any enforcement, the scheme would never fly. Still, it’ll get more publicity for NWEC, which will help in the company’s plan to make the West End overtake Manhattan as the world’s premier shopping destination.