Until 1782, Oxford Street was known as Tyburn Road - after the River Tyburn which ran to the south of Oxford Street and now runs beneath it (see note on Blue Ribbon Policy in the London Plan 2004). Originally a Roman road it is straight and has served as a base for the eighteenth century grid planned estates to the north. The present Oxford Street was developed by the Earl of Oxford and has become one of the world's premier shopping streets. But the physical environment is unpleasant. The air is poisoned by diesel fumes from busses and taxis; the box marking on the road surface is ugly; there is too little space for pedestrians and street markets.There is no glazed outdoor space.
Several 'landscaping schemes' were implemented along Oxford Street in the last quarter of the twentieth century: the sidewalks were widened, the paving materials were upgraded and trees were planted in tubs. But too much space is still allocated to vehicles. At a guess, it looks as though 50% of the streetspace is allocated to 5% of the users. Learning from Covent Garden, the whole space should be re-designed as an urban landscape.
Pedistrians throng Oxford Street's sidewalks and diesel-powered vehicles usually jam the road in both directions.
A cycle rickshaw on the cycle route to Hyde Park, sponsored by the O2 mobile phone company in 2006 (beside the Animals in War memorial)
The future for street transport in Central London? Cycle rickshaws parked in Hyde Park