Assembly backs re-introduction of pedestrian only days, Oxford Street

05 November 2014

The London Assembly has called on Mayor Boris Johnson to support the re-introduction of pedestrian only days on Oxford Street amid evidence of rising collisions between pedestrians and buses, and start work on options to improve safety and cut pollution on Oxford Street.

A motion agreed today [1] concludes that making minor modifications to Oxford Street will not be sufficient to maintain the West End’s status as a premier shopping destination in the face of poor pedestrian safety and world beating pollution levels.

Stephen Knight AM, who proposed the motion, said:

"Oxford Street cannot go on being a street where a pedestrian in knocked-down every 5 days and where nitrogen dioxide pollution is higher than anywhere else on the planet. The on-going conflict between pedestrians and vehicles must be resolved in favour of pedestrians once and for all, if the west end is to remain a world-class shopping centre. This motion asks the Mayor to draw up proposals and start a formal consultation by the end of 2015

The full text of the motion is:

“This Assembly notes the recent London Assembly Transport Committee report ‘Feet First’ which reveals that six of London’s top 24 pedestrian collision hotspots are in Oxford Street. This Assembly also notes recent evidence from Transport for London (TfL) revealing that pedestrian collisions with buses have actually increased on this road. [2]

This Assembly also notes the recent statement from the Principal Air Quality Scientist of the Environmental Research Group at King's College London that “measurements of NO2 [nitrogen dioxide] concentration recorded at the Oxford Street roadside air pollution monitoring site were to his knowledge the highest in the world.” [3] This view was endorsed by campaigners who, during a site visit to Oxford Street on 28 January 2014, labelled air quality in the area “a national disgrace”. [4]

This Assembly further notes that compared to the Mayor’s advocacy of cycling, the benefits of walking and pedestrian initiatives have been largely overlooked across London. This Assembly is especially concerned by his inaccurate statement at Mayor’s Question Time on the 22nd October that VIP Day (Very Important Pedestrian Day) has led to a reduction in footfall.

This Assembly believes the safety and pollution record of Oxford Street, combined with the impact of Crossrail, means that maintaining the status quo or even making minor modifications are not sufficient for the long term success of Oxford Street and the West End economy.

This Assembly therefore urges the Mayor to immediately support the re-introduction of the highly popular Very Important Pedestrian Day, which should be combined with a programme of weekend pedestrian closures over Summer months based on the successful New York Summer Streets programme.

This Assembly also calls for the Mayor to authorise Transport for London to draw up a number of options to end pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries as well as reduce air pollution in Oxford Street, which should then form the basis of a public consultation which should start before the end of 2015.” This Assembly also calls on the Mayor – in recognition of his statutory environmental duties across London – to establish what steps the City of Westminster are taking to reduce emissions, which will eventually begin to undermine the West End’s attractiveness to Londoners and tourists alike.

Notes to editors:

The motion was agreed by 16 votes for to 8 against at a meeting of the full Assembly today. Watch the webcast.

Figures obtained from Transport for London (TfL) in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request submitted by the London Assembly Liberal Democrat Group

Statement of Dr. David Carslaw, 9th July 2014

P21 London Assembly Transport Committee report: Feet First: Improving Pedestrian Safety in London, March 2014

As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.