West End Discontent Grows
Discontent appears to be growing with the traffic-dominated environment of the West End.
In September, the New West End Company launched its new £25m five-year business plan. This plan outlined strategies 'to drive growth and investment, create a world-class environment and deliver a game-changer to end the wall of buses and traffic congestion on the streets.' In preparing the plan, local businesses told the New West End Company that they wanted 'hassle-free, less congested shopping streets that are enjoyed not endured'.
The West End can be an unattractive environment
As an apparently unrelated development, an independent West End Commission has been established. It summarises its remit as follows: 'Drawing on the evidence and experience of all interested stakeholders, the Chair and Commissioners hope to work towards a long-term strategic framework to ensure that the West End meets the future needs of residents, businesses, communities and visitors alike while continuing to occupy its vital place within London and in the global economy. In doing so, they invited participants to submit their ideas and solutions for making the West End a better place.'
The Westminster Cycling Campaign made a brief submission. The West End faces intense competition from out-of-town retail centres, other cities and the internet. Sooner or later, businesses and their customers are going to wake up to the fact that the West End, dominated as it is by traffic, compares unfavourably with the competition. Cycling has an important part to play in creating an improved environment. Social attitudes to cycling have changed: it is now seen as an aspirational activity and the number of cyclists in parts of central London has grown fourfold this century.
The London Cycling Campaign made a supporting submission, with more details of the measures it would like to see adopted. These included a 20mph limit, dismantling of one-way systems and a network of high-grade cycle routes. The LCC also referred to the value to retailers of customers who arrive by bicycle.
The Cycling Embassy also made a submission.
Even secondary streets are dominated by traffic