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We need a better vision to improve the city and its public realm

11 August, 2017

Peter Hartley, chair, Westminster Living Streets

• YOU know you have lost the argument when you start blaming the victims of the Oxford Street current madness as David Bieda suggests (Oxford Street pedestrians ignore the dangers, July 28).

The infrastructure cannot support the millions of shoppers and commuters and the thousands of buses and taxis that use it each week.

That is not the fault of the pedestrians, it is purely down to the councillors at Westminster who, for decades, have allowed the status quo to continue so terrified of the resident lobby that every week in Oxford Street somebody is killed or injured. That is a damning indictment of failed policies.

And yes, Ethan Pod (Pedestrianisation champion’s street claims are ludicrous, July 28) I chose the word “slaughter” advisedly. It is defined as killing cruelly and unfairly and that is exactly what it is.

Instead of worrying about displacement why don’t you talk to some of the relatives of those who have died here?

It is the most humbling experience to learn of the devastation that has been caused in losing a loved one. Or you can come and talk to my friend Tom Kearney who was put in a coma and was about to die when he was hit by a bus while standing on the pavement outside John Lewis.

It is not a question of pinch points, as you describe them. Oxford Street was never designed to be used as intensely as it is now and those who oppose pedestrianisation on the spurious grounds that their lives may be affected are as responsible as the politicians for this wholly unnecessary slaughter.

By the way, if you don’t think that Oxford Street is Britain’s most dangerous road, then tell me where is.

We need to wake up to the reality of the new order in transport planning.It is pedestrians, cyclists and public transport first as laid out in the mayor’s transport strategy. I appreciate the difficulties that local residents have in adapting to this and all change in our daily lives is a challenge.

I promise you that when pedestrianisation happens and Oxford Street is transformed, allowing time for the scheme to bed in, we will all marvel at the change that occurs.

We need to have a better vision for the heart of London and the improvement in the public realm has a major part to play in this objective.

Chair, Westminster Living Streets


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