URGENT: Say ‘no’ to a cycling ban on Oxford Street

TLDR: TfL’s proposals to pedestrianise Oxford Street include no provision for cycling. This will create a serious, permanent hole in the cycling network in the West End. Decisively reject the plans by replying to the consultation with a firm ‘No’ and giving lack of provision for cycling as your reasoning.

I’d like to coin Mustafa’s first law of cycle routes: if there’s a Roman road from A to B, that’s where the cycle route should go.

The Romans did not just have the foresight to build roads that were direct, and with minimal gradients. Two millennia of urban development has grown up around them and they now form the contours and skeletons of towns and cities across the country. Today’s Oxford Street is a key stretch of the Via Trinobantina – the Roman road connecting Calleva Atrebatum in Hampshire to the settlement that grew into Colchester. Development throughout the centuries, since, has taken into account it being there. Look on any street map and Oxford Street is, quite clearly, the main East-West artery through the West End (and more broadly part of the main east-west route through London). Although private cars have been banned from much of Oxford Street since the 1970s it remains signposted as the A40, precisely because there is no decent parallel route.

TfL’s plans to pedestrianise Oxford Street make no allowance for maintaining this ancient, and irreplaceable thoroughfare for cycling. They are proposing to ban cycling with only a vague notion of a “parallel route” some time in the future. Even if such a route was possible, without large scale destruction of private property to refashion the West End of London, it is scandalous that cycling be banned from Oxford Street before such a route be built. It is totally at odds with promoting the growth of cycling to require cyclists to go, literally, round the houses. Moreover, it’s a ban that is likely to be flouted causing unnecessary conflict with pedestrians and making more progress difficult.

It’s therefore imperative that the scheme be stopped. Some cycling campaigners seem to be under the illusion that if they respond ‘Yes but…’ that somehow they may be able to salvage something – they are deluded. Campaigners are always expected to say “Yes but…” because we always want to push the boundaries of what’s possible. A “Yes but…” can easily be dismissed. The only way to send a powerful signal that we expect the scheme to change is to confidently, and clearly respond ‘No, not good enough”. And that’s what I urge anyone who cares about utility cycling in London to do.

Below is a screenshot of my response. Respond by midnight on 3rd January 2018.


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