West End stores have called for a traffic ban in Oxford Street and Regent Street every Sunday, after seeing how well a similar scheme in Times Square has worked. The New York trial scheme has reportedly been so successful it has been made permanent and retail rents have soared along with visitor satisfaction.
Westminster Council have been playing around with the roads in the West End for a while now but nothing seems to ease the congestion. That’s because Westminster is ideologically opposed to doing anything that doesn’t prioritise car drivers.
The Chair of the New West End Company, representing the retailers, said:
“Tackling these priorities could prove to be the deciding factor in the mayoral elections in May 2012. Other cities around the world have dealt with their traffic congestion. London can do the same.”
Now isn’t that interesting. Boris was elected on a ticket of tackling congestion by playing around with traffic light timings. It clearly hasn’t worked too well in the view of these retailers – and remember these are business people, not environmental campaigners. It’s time politicians are honest with us, the price of unrestricted car use is congestion. If you’re not prepared to treat roadspace as a valuable resource that needs to be conserved and used sensibly and productively, the result is unpredictable journey times and streets where people don’t want to be. Businesses increasingly understand that. It’s time the politicians did too.