How a street you know will change in 2018
Cities sometime get a bad press for pollution, waste and confinement, but planners are increasingly using modern research, design and engineering to respond to the environmental issues that come with dense urban living. London has done much in recent years to improve its sustainability credentials, with some fascinating and innovative designs that stand out if you know where to look for them.
One key area undergoing such changes is Oxford Street, a must-do for people visiting London and one in massive need of regeneration and modernisation. 500, 000 people walk through it per day, fighting for space on the undersized pavements. It’s a reminder of a London past, before population density reached modern levels.
The street’s popularity as a shopping destination is matched only by its rampant pollution levels – some of the worst in the city and shamefully above EU guidelines. But choking on lungfuls of car, bus and lorry exhaust is set to become a thing of the past in 2018 with the opening of the pedestrianised zone. Not only will it reduce pollution by cutting out dirty vehicles, it is supposed to reinvigorate the area that many Londoners only go when absolutely necessary (last minute presents anyone?) due to the smog and bustle.
On one level pedestrianizing a street sounds simple – don’t you just stop the cars? But Oxford Street is such a vital artery through central London that the changes have taken a massive effort to orchestrate. Here’s how they’ve done it:
Jazz the place up
The road will be levelled to match the pavements, encouraging pedestrians to make full use of their new domain. The area will be re-greened, with plants popping up everywhere and colourful floor graphics improving the vibe underfoot. What’s even cooler is are PaveGen’s power generating floor tiles – these will provide the energy for street lights and other infrastructure, further improving the Oxford Street’s eco-footprint.
More trains
Anyone that’s seen Oxford Circus at 6pm on a weekday will know what I mean when I say we need more trains. What seems to be a huge game of ‘how many humans can we crush into a small, dangerous hole in the floor’ will be relieved by the introduction of Crossrail, including two new stations to take the pressure of the beleaguered old-guard. This is central to making the plans possible.
The end the bus
Because of the new rail connections TFL are stopping busses from accessing the main street. They can still cross from North to South, but care has been taken to ensure traffic isn’t just displaced into the surrounding streets by axing several services. In the more independent, non-chain shopping areas that bring non-brand character to the area the pavements will be widened, spreading the dominance of the pedestrian even further.
At Shape we’re excited to see these changes, especially as they’ll contribute to a cleaner and safer London for us all. What do you think? Where’s next..?
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