LondonUnlocked

Getting About by Foot

Articles, LondonUnlockedEditorComment

Shortly before leaving office, Ken Livingstone launched London's Walking Plan, detailing his vision for a pedestrian friendly capital. Elements of that plan launched soon after - increased signage specifically geared towards those on foot around Regent Street, Covent Garden and Soho being one example.

Bolder than that was the former Mayor's plan to introduce 100 public spaces in the city - a scheme which would have included pedestrianizing Parliament Square. Boris Johnson, upon taking office, scrapped that plan.

Transport critics such as Christian Wolmar have been scathing about these moves, calling for the pedestrianization not just of Parliament Square, but also Oxford Street.

Yesterday, that call was renewed. The New West End Company, which represents businesses around Oxford, Bond and Regent Streets, has stated that bus services down Oxford Street need slashing by a third. Perhaps this is not as bold as calling for full pedestrianization, though perhaps it is more realistic given the current economic climate, and the Mayor's stated opposition to such a move.

The Mayor and City Hall has yet to respond to the Company's calls.

However, in related news, Boris Johnson has announced plans for his Green Spaces scheme - which seems to echo Ken Livingstone's plans, except in their scope. Already the Mayor is thinking about making Exhibition Road more pedestrian friendly and investing in making Chinatown more 'authentic', whatever that may mean. A separate scheme will see the business of traversing Waterloo by foot significantly easier.

The Mayor has shown that he is willing to consider pedestrianization if the right plan is put to him with a decent business case. Could we see plans for Parliament Square and Oxford Street back on the table before the end of the Mayor's term? Perhaps it is too early to tell, though there is now at least hope.