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The World's 'Most Polluted Street' Will Go Pedestrian-Only

London’s Oxford Street will ban cars, buses and taxis starting in 2020.
Shoppers reflected in a store window on London's Oxford Street.
Shoppers reflected in a store window on London's Oxford Street.Luke MacGregor/Reuters

The street that some scientists have called “the most polluted in the world” is set to go car-free. According to an announcement Thursday from London’s Deputy Mayor for Transport, London’s Oxford Street will be entirely free of vehicles by 2020. That doesn’t just mean no cars—these are already banned during peak hours and on weekends—it means no buses and no taxis as well, which will rerouted in two staggered phases.

The plan responds to a desperate need. An extremely busy shopping destination, Oxford Street’s air pollution is so bad that it typically reaches beyond-safe levels for the entire year within the first week of January. But while cutting pollution here is sorely needed, it’s also a difficult enterprise. Handled badly, the pedestrianization plan for Oxford Street could risk blocking up the whole of Central London.