Two months ago, London Mayor Sadiq Khan unveiled radical plans to pedestrianise Oxford Street. Transport for All (TfA) responded to the consultation with some concerns regarding the accessibility of this major shopping street.
TfA recognises that the Oxford Street transformation is a flagship policy in the Mayor’s Transport Strategy. The project has huge potential for positive transformation of an area of London that is notorious for congestion. However, we are very concerned about the accessibility implications it may have. We therefore urge the Mayor to take this opportunity to improve and maintain access to Oxford Street for London’s Disabled and older citizens so they may have full unrestricted access to participate in all that this iconic Street has to offer.
1) The removal of bus routes and taxis along Oxford Street.
Buses are currently one of the most accessible forms of transport in London, and are relied on by many Disabled transport users to travel through the West End. They are also heavily used for short range transport on Oxford Street itself. The plans to remove, reroute and relocate buses in the Oxford Street West area will therefore have a significant impact on Disabled and older people who either live and/or travel to/from/through Oxford Street.
Whilst the arrival of the Elizabeth Line will mean step-free access for Bond Street and Tottenham Court road stations, these are stations at either end of Oxford Street leaving a potential ‘no man’s land’ in the middle section of the street for those Disabled people who have sensory, mobility and other impairments.
The removal of taxis will also further restrict and/or prevent meaningful access to Oxford Street for shopping, business or entertainment.
- Investigate and trial short range transport solutions like a mobility scooter hire scheme and/or shuttle buggies.
- Ensure that there are electric charging points for mobility scooters and electric wheelchair users.
2) Access at bus stops/shelters
With the removal and relocation of bus stops to neighbouring streets we are concerned about the potential congestion that may be caused at these bus stops. Many Disabled and older people have issues when trying to board buses during busy periods due to either bus drivers not prioritising access for wheelchair users, or simply other passengers cramming onto the bus and Disabled and older passengers being left behind.
- Ensure that the frequency of buses serving the new stops is increased so as to avoid over-crowding.
- All bus drivers who are serving the new reconfigured bus stops to be fully trained or re-trained in their responsibilities around Disabled and older passengers boarding and alighting.
- Audio communication facilities to assist blind and partially-sighted people.
- Bus shelters and taxi ranks to be made fully accessible.
3) Improved street access
The Oxford Street transformation is an opportunity to showcase world – leading best practise when it comes to designing an accessible street scene.
- Tactile paving at all crossings and intersections.
- Clear defined Tactile markings to allow full access along Oxford Street
- Clear delineation including kerbs and tactile paving between pedestrians and cycles
- Places for people to stop and rest including comfortable benches, shelter and accessible facilities
- Wide, comfortable and level footways
- Minimal road and cycle lane crossings
- No bus stop bypasses on Oxford Street or surrounding areas
- All crossings to be controlled, fully accessible, frequent and where people want to cross
- Clear and accessible signage and way – finding technology
- Audio communication kiosks to provide basic information e.g., location, facilities nearby etc.
- No street furniture, clutter or stalls blocking passenger and pedestrian routes
- Taxi ranks and blue badge parking bays within fifty meters of the street; and bus stops within an accessible distance.
- Infrastructure designed to stop bus ‘stacking’ (one lining up behind the other rather than pulling into stops) on side streets
- Staff and help points available to offer assistance to public transport users at all interchanges
4) Improving Security
We believe that the Oxford Street transformation project is a great opportunity to look at measures where the security of Disabled and older visitors can be enhanced.
- Providing on-street staff who are trained and on-hand to provide assistance.
- ‘Safe’ zones where assistance can be provided. We believe that this would improve access and the general Oxford Street experience for many including those with invisible impairments like mental health issues and autism.
- Clear defined tactile markings to allow unrestricted access along Oxford Street.
- Audio Communication kiosks.
The introduction of these measures would allow visitors with sensory, invisible and mobility impairments to exit an area safely, quickly and with confidence in the event of a security alert.
Since you’re here …
… we have a small favour to ask. Transport for All is proud to be an independent grassroots charity and we depend on donations and support from our members. Every day Disabled and older people have their lives restricted (or even become housebound) because transport services fail them. Take action so that everyone can access buses with independence