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London's Oxford Circus Could be Car-free by Next Christmas

Oxford Street in London could become car-free next year as part of a larger plan to reduce congestion, improve air quality and create "the world's best outdoor shopping experience."

AFP Relaxnews

Updated:November 7, 2017, 2:26 PM IST
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London's Oxford Circus Could be Car-free by Next Christmas
Oxford Street in London could become car-free by next year. (Photo courtesy: AFP Relaxnews/ elenaburn/ shutterstock.com)
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One of Europe's busiest shopping areas, Oxford Street in London, could become car-free next year as part of a larger plan to reduce congestion, improve air quality and create "the world's best outdoor shopping experience."

On Monday, London Mayor Sadiq Khan unveiled details on the new proposal which calls for a dramatic transformation of Oxford Street and Oxford Circus, home to 300 retail stores.

If approved, the strip between Orchard Street and Oxford Circus could become a car-free area by next Christmas: Where once double-decker buses and cars rolled, pedestrians will find rows of new seating and public art installations.

And instead of shuffling at a snail's pace elbow to elbow, busy commuters could suddenly find themselves with drastically more open space to navigate.

The pedestrianization of Oxford Street would coincide with the opening of London's newest rail line, the Elizabeth line, which will stretch more than about 100 km (60 miles) from Reading and Heathrow in the west, to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

The new railway will stop at 41 stations and serve 200 million passengers a year. It's expected to open in December 2018.

The Oxfort Street proposal also calls for the widening of more than 2 km of pavements for local residents and visitors, at least 25 new pedestrian crossings, and improved cycling paths.

"This is a hugely exciting moment for the capital. Oxford Street is world famous with millions of visitors every year, and in just over a year the iconic part of the street west of Oxford Circus could be transformed into a traffic-free pedestrian boulevard," said London Mayor Sadiq Khan in a statement.

"Whether you're a local resident, a business, or shop in some of the area's famous stores, our plans will make the area substantially cleaner and safer for everyone, creating one of the finest public spaces in the world."

The London proposal comes about a month after Paris city officials released details on their own aggressive plan to phase out diesel cars by 2024 in time for the Olympic Games, as a means to improve air quality and reduce congestion.

Since taking office, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has been a crusader for turning the roads over to pedestrians, banning cars on the Champs-Elysees on the first Sunday of every month, and most recently transforming a busy thoroughfare along the Seine on the Right Bank into a pedestrian-only strip.

Meanwhile in London, transport officials have been working to reduce the number of buses operating along Oxford Street by 40 percent since last summer.

Close to 12,000 people responded to the first public consultation on plans to transform the Oxford Street district.

The second public consultation will accept comments until December 17, 2017.

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| Edited by: Manila Venugopal
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