August 01, 2003

Traffic on Oxford Street

Category: Urban Planning

London: Oxford Street is probably London's busiest shopping street. Private cars were banned from it some years back, but buses and taxis still have access.

In principal this is a great idea, but there are so many busses and taxis now, and the sidewalks are so overflowing with people, many of whom constantly jaywalk, that the traffic flow is about the speed of a kid on a tricycle.

This makes the busses completely useless. It also ensures that the sidewalks (especially on the weekend) are so crowded that at best you're completely overwhelmed, and at worst, unable to move at all.

The obvious solution is to pedestrianize the whole street, like major streets in other European cities. That would at least double the amount of space people have to move around. The hard part would be finding alternate routes for the buses, but parallel side streets could probably accommodate them. As for the taxis, why not allow side streets to come to little dead-end taxi stands as they abut Oxford street?

Posted by Nick at August 1, 2003 09:45 AM | TrackBack


Until you mentioned it, I was unaware that Oxford Street was out of bounds to private cars. Obviously, I have never tried to drive down it. I have often walked down it is a pedestrian and occasionally ridden down it in a bus or taxi, and it has always simply struck me as a very congested street.

Posted by: Michael Jennings on August 7, 2003 10:40 PM

Oxford Street is a strange place. First, I would agree wholeheartedly that it is far too crowded.

But then, Londoners shun it in terms of shopping and head for the more interesting places, like Camden or Brixton. So mostly Oxford street is full of Tourists (who don't vote for the assembly).

Also, remember Oxford street is very, very long. It would be a foolish person who set out to stroll down its full length. Thats why most shops on Oxford Street have several branches along its length. So not to provide some form of public transport along it is bad town planning (remember, people in wheelchairs are not welcome on the Tube).
I guess a pragmatic view would be to get rid of Taxis, and limit the number of bus routes that use it.

Posted by: Oxymoron on September 3, 2003 11:18 AM
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