Opinion

Places In London We'd Like To See Pedestrianised

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 15 months ago
Places In London We'd Like To See Pedestrianised

With Bank Junction restricted to bikes and buses at rush hour, and Oxford Street's pedestrianisation in the offing, London is becoming increasingly walk/cycle friendly. Still, there are still many thoroughfares we reckon would benefit from going vehicle-less. Here are five — suggest your own in the comments.

1. Exhibition Road/Serpentine Bridge/West Carriage Drive

The Serpentine Bridge is idyllic, until someone goes and drives all over it. Photo: Annika

Exhibition Road underwent extensive and costly (£35,000 per metre) redevelopment in 2011. Its new shared space scheme won plaudits — even if, in our opinion, we're never quite sure who's meant to be doing what. But as the road drills into the south side of Hyde Park and over John Rennie's idyllic bridge, things become ugly. By the looks of the flashy motors zooming by, many owners are only taking them out of the garage to show them off — and anyway, using a park as a shortcut is something that should be reserved for an episode of Wacky Races. This road is dastardly.

2. Brick Lane

Maybe not ALL traffic should be banned from Brick Lane. Photo: Michael Goldrei

Former Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman may officially be 'disgraced', but we think he was onto something with his scheme to pedestrianise Brick Lane for four Saturdays of the year. Unfortunately, many locals didn't see eye to eye with him and the plan was spiked in 2013. One of the issues that arose was the potential loss of trade; the counterargument is that you could fit more punters into Brick Lane if you removed the traffic. As with many of these situations, the solution ain't easy...

3. Greenwich town centre

Be gone, villainous bus. Photo: Jack Marian

Such is Greenwich's pseudo-seafront charm, you could get lost in a fug of fish 'n' chips and then almost get your block knocked off by a passing 188 bus. We all want to get to the Cutty Sark The Old Brewery as swiftly as possible, but would it really be the end of the word if they snipped out the vehicle routes that are right into the thick of it? There have been plenty of consultations — but Greenwich, you must do better.

4. Trafalgar Square

Finish the job, guys. Photo: Anatoleya

In 2003, Foster+Partners cut out the traffic at the north of Trafalgar Square, meaning the worst traffic pedestrians encounter these days are the countless people up poles dressed as Yoda. The trouble is that traffic to the south of the square is fierce as ever — it can take a good few minutes to get from one side to the other. Let's finish the job and seal up this bit of the A4 too. Someone in the office also suggested we pedestrianise The Mall and Whitehall while we're at it. We admit this may be a step too far; where else is the Queen going to take her golden set of wheels for a spin?

5. Camden High Street

Stick to the paths. Photo: Stephanie Sadler

We're not the first to raise the idea of pedestrianising Camden High Street. In fact anyone who's found themselves wedged in between a load of over-excited teens and a stall selling iPooed t-shirts will have seriously contemplated penning a letter to Camden Council. Having said that, savvy Londoners will know how to navigate the quaint backstreets with their pastel houses and wisteria ensconced bookshops. Sometimes the answer is closer than you think.

And one place we'd like see to see un-pedestrianised...

"Completely outrageous" was how one Archway resident described the pedestrianisation of Archway Road where it meets Highgate Hill. "I'm going to superglue my face to the road," came another response from a landlord who witnessed a collision between a bus and motorcyclist soon after the changes were made. The trouble, it seems, is the vast amount of buses now having to perform U-turns. We wonder if at some point, TfL will perform a U-turn of its own.

Last Updated 18 May 2017