Oxford Street's Very Important Pedestrian Day on Saturday was such a success there are calls for it to become permanently pedestrianised. The Evening Standard yesterday ran a cri de coeur to banish fume-belching, noise-throbbing, snail-crawling traffic from London's world famous shopping district.
We've been here before of course. Remember the 'walking fast lane'? The Oxford Street tram was scrapped in the latest TfL review while the Japanese-style Oxford Circus crossing is still under consultation. Boris Johnson doesn't have the best track record on pedestrianisation – see Parliament Square – and his pledge to reduce bus numbers by a frankly piddling amount probably won't make much difference to the daily automotive scrum.
Yes, it would create temporary chaos while we all got used to new bus routes and yes, we'd probably end up walking further. But at least there would be space to walk in. Parking issues have been cited in the past, but does anybody actually park on Oxford Street?! With 1.5 million shoppers flocking to the area on Saturday we suspect a lot of the objections are from moaning minnies who don't like change.
Oxford Street doesn't have time to sit on its hands. Westfield is only the start of the London shopping revolution – in less than four years we'll have another major mall at Stratford and the massive regeneration of Kings Cross. The lure of Selfridges and other flagship stores will always draw people to Oxford Street, but will they really want to battle the crush just to pop into HMV when they can stroll round a state of the art shopping centre? We think the campaign for pedestrianisation should start now.
Photograph by tim166 under the Creative Commons licence