London Evening Standard)
Cyclists could be banned from Oxford Street when it is pedestrianised, London’s walking and cycling tsar has revealed.
Sadiq Khan pledged in his manifesto to remove traffic from the capital’s main shopping street by 2020, and a public consultation is due to be launched “very soon”.
His walking and cycling commissioner Will Norman has now suggested that the changes could include a ban on cyclists using Oxford Street as part of a wider plan to build safer bike routes throughout the area.
Asked whether bikes would be allowed after pedestrianisation, Mr Norman told the London Assembly yesterday: “It’s something we are looking at very carefully in terms of what are the options here.
“Whatever happens, whether they go down Oxford Street or not, it’s really important we provide additional safer routes for access to Oxford Street and that area.
“In Oxford Street in the morning peak there are about 200 cyclists per hour. In Wigmore Street, slightly to the north, there are about the same number per hour, and again on New Cavendish Street and George Street.
“As a combination, they begin to add up, so it’s very important we do look at the cycling facilities in that area as part of that scheme.
“Whether they go down Oxford Street or alternative routes, that is why we do need to do a consultation and understand what the needs are of local residents and other stakeholders.”
Mr Norman said the opening of Crossrail, also called the Elizabeth line, in December 2018 would bring another 50,000 to 80,000 pedestrians to Oxford Street each day.
He said the death of pedestrian Dr Chesmal Siriwardhana, 38, a researcher and tutor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, in collision with a night bus earlier this month “really goes to emphasise the importance of why we need to transform that area”.
Simon Munk, infrastructure campaigner at London Cycling Campaign, said thousands of cyclists used the Clerkenwell-New Oxford Street “boulevard” but then deliberately diverted away from Oxford Street.
He told the Standard: “What is really clear is that cyclists are doing everything they can to avoid Oxford Street at the moment. It’s so horrifically unpleasant. But the desire is there. It’s very clear there has to be a really high-quality east-west route.” He added: “At the moment, pedestrians are also getting a really raw deal.”
Caroline Pidgeon, Lib-Dem chairwoman of the London Assembly transport committee, said: “On this issue I think Will Norman is taking the right approach.
“Improving pedestrianisation of Oxford Street must definitely include proposals to improve cycling provision in the area, however the case for allowing cyclists on a pedestrianised Oxford Street itself does pose some challenges.
“It should be looked at, but it might just not be possible to deliver and neighbouring streets may be a better alternative.
“The number one priority must be to meet the needs of pedestrians of all ages, who must be able to walk down Oxford Street in comfort and safety.”
Transport for London today confirmed that the number of buses running along Oxford Street will be cut by 40 per cent, with changes to 23 routes.
The buses will be re-routed away from Oxford Street or have their routes cut short, with some terminating at Marble Arch or in Bloomsbury. About 270 buses an hour currently use Oxford Street.