The Most Polluted Street on Earth Is Going Vehicle-Free

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The nitrogen dioxide levels on Oxford Street in London are alarmingly high—10 times that of the legal limit. In effort to clean up what researchers have declared to be the most polluted spot on earth, London has vowed to make the popular shopping district exclusive to pedestrians by 2020, City Lab reports.

On July 14, the city’s Deputy Mayor for Transport announced that the 1.2 mile street will be phasing out all vehicles over the next four years. That includes buses, taxis, and cars, the latter of which are already banned from the street between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. six days a week.

The plan is to gradually reroute vehicles around the road in two stages. Exactly where the city will divert the up to hundreds of buses that use the street each day wasn’t made clear, but the debut of the Crossrail line in a few years could help alleviate some of that traffic. Past officials have also looked into building a tram as a more efficient alternative to the buses congesting Oxford Street.

London isn’t the first European city to ban vehicles from one of its busiest hubs. In 2015, Oslo pledged to rid automobiles from their city center by 2019, and this past May, Paris announced that the iconic Champs-Élysées would go car-free once a month. According to a statement from the London mayor's press office, the new plan for Oxford Street aims to make it "a far safer and more pleasant place to visit."

[h/t City Lab]

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