Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Ross Lydall

Daytime car ban cuts Tottenham Court Road traffic by two-thirds

The number of cycle journeys made on Tottenham Court Road is up

(Picture: Ross Lydall)

A £35 million scheme that turned Tottenham Court Road into a two-way street and banned cars during the day has cut traffic levels by two-thirds.

The number of vehicles using the road on weekdays fell by 65 per cent, from an average of 8,839 in March 2017 to 3,124 in March this year. Only buses and bikes are allowed from 8am-7pm, Monday to Saturday.

There was also a 32 per cent fall in traffic across the wider Bloomsbury area, while air quality improved. Almost 3,000 cycle journeys a day are now made on Tottenham Court Road — up 21 per cent in a year.

Traffic levels are expected to fall further when enforcement cameras are switched on — with the 500 drivers a day who ignore the restrictions facing £130 fines.

Camden council, which commissioned the study from consultants Aecom, says the changes — which included also converting Gower Street to two-way traffic — have made the area more attractive to residents and shoppers.

Alfred Place pocket park (Ross Lydall)

The West End Project — the biggest public realm scheme implemented by the council — removed a gyratory system that only allowed traffic to travel north on Tottenham Court Road and south on Gower Street.

Aecom’s report said: “The reduction in vehicles using Tottenham Court Road is a positive and intended outcome.”

There are hopes that this could encourage Westminster council’s new Labour leadership to be bold in addressing the problems of neighbouring Oxford Street, which remains dominated by traffic.

Adam Harrison, cabinet member for a sustainable Camden, said: “It shows that when you try to change a road, there are multiple benefits you can achieve if you get it right. You might start off trying to tackle bus journey times or road safety but a street is a place where people should meet or congregate, not just hurry along.

“I think it shows what you can achieve in central London, in areas where people might initially think it’s too difficult. It’s definitely more pleasant – it’s less noisy. We are hoping all the office workers will come back and see Tottenham Court Road as a place to spend time.”

Footfall in the street is recovering to pre-pandemic levels, according to business groups. Heal’s, the landmark furniture store, is due to expand into the space vacated by Habitat. The Ikea Concept Store has closed but an Andrew Martin furniture shop has opened.

Five “pocket parks” have been created in side streets, such as Alfred Place and Whitfield Gardens. Others are due at Windmill Square and Bayley Street.

Nearby, al fresco dining areas have been created in Charlotte Street, while the Princes Circus junction at the northern end of Shaftesbury Avenue is being transformed.

The changes were first envisaged in 2009 to improve bus reliability. The current scheme, part-funded by Transport for London, was approved in 2016, in part to improve the environment for the thousands of visitors expected to be attracted to the area by the opening of the Elizabeth line.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.