On average, Londoners spent more than 100 hours per year stuck in traffic, so could a pedestrianised network be the answer to all our traffic woes? Zaha Hadid Architects seems to think so, proposing a revolutionary network of pedestrian routes across the city that could mean there’s no excuse for not walking to work in the future.
The London-based firm suggested that an integrated pedestrian network could become a viable part of the city’s transport infrastructure if enough pedestrian-friendly zones are created across the city.
More than a third of trips made by car in the capital could actually be walked in under 25 minutes, so an extension of existing walkways and planning new pedestrianised zones would hopefully encourage commuters to walk rather than put pressure on London’s already overloaded transport system, especially as nearly 70% of the world’s population is set to live in cities by 2030, according to the firm’s research.
‘London was traditionally a walking city,’ said Zaha Hadid Architects. ‘Walkable London presents proposals that re-introduce walking as an integral part of the city’s transport network.’
The Walkable London project suggests initially building on existing plans that are in place to transform part of Oxford Street into an entirely car-free zone by the end of 2018. The popular shopping destination would be included in the first phase of ‘fully pedestrianised primary boulevards’, which would then be supported by further ‘secondary’ car-free areas to ultimately create entire blocks of pedestrianised areas in central London.
This type of initiative has historically been a success, with London’s Trafalgar Square hitting a 300% increase in visitors after the North Terrace was pedestrianised, plus temporary closures to traffic on Regent Street suggests the city’s major shopping district would benefit from such a scheme, with a 57% increase in footfall as a result of road closures.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has been very supportive of plans to pedestrianise parts of London, backing the transformation of the road stretching from Oxford Circus to Selfridges into a colourful pedestrian-priority area, potentially with public art suspended above the road.
‘This is a hugely exciting moment for the capital,’ Khan said in a statement when the announcement was made in November 2017. ‘Oxford Street is world-famous, with millions of visitors every year, and in just over a year the iconic part of the street west of Oxford Circus could be transformed into a traffic-free pedestrian boulevard.’
In addition, there have been talks surrounding the shared vehicle and pedestrian space at Exhibition Road, which connects major institutions the V&A, Natural History Museum and Science Museum, following an accident last year. This area too, could become fully pedestrianised after concerns about road safety.
Zaha Hadid Architects is also one of the 39 teams in the longlist for the winning redesign of the Old Street Roundabout, which is also due to be turned into a more pedestrian-friendly public space in late 2018.
Read more about the Walkable London project here.