Two people walking

Sadiq Khan has committed to pedestrianise Oxford Street by 2020. This will mean people visiting, working and living in the area will be able to walk freely, safely and breathe fresh air.

Joanna Sopylo-Firrisa is a writer and a blogger. She loves walking in London and is already looking forward to Oxford Street going car-free. She tells us why.

 

 

Joanna Sopylo-Firrisa
Oxford Street magazine stall

Photo: Joanna Sopylo-Firrisa

As an avid London city walker, I'm already thinking about that moment Oxford Street is pedestrianised. I'm also planning what I'm going to do to 'celebrate' it.  

At the moment, a lot of people avoid the Oxford Street area, not just because of the crowds of tourists and Londoners, but because of dangerous mix of buses, taxis and pedestrians altogether.

For so many years the poor organisation of Oxford Street has put so many Londoners off visiting it. Now is the time to reclaim this historic part of London that has so much to offer.

Here's my list of favourite places to revisit and new places to explore once the pedestrianisation happens. You can take advantage of it already, if you have itchy feet, or wait until 2020 to celebrate with me.

 

My favourite places

Cavendish Square Gardens and Hanover Square

Green spaces are rarity in this part of London, not counting Hyde Park, of course. So, when you can't have what you want, you rejoice over what you have.

Cavendish Square Gardens and Hanover are great. They're an oasis of peace in this busy environment. Both are small, but provide enough space to rest, think and read a book or a magazine.

Photographers' Gallery and GettyImages Gallery

One on Ramillies Street and the other on Eastcastle Street, on two sides of Oxford Street. These are two great places for those who like to relax in the presence of art, especially good British and international photography.

The former I visit almost every time I'm in the area. The latter I've discovered on one of my walks. They're both wonderful places to be and see the pictures - old and new, from around the world.

All Souls Langham Place and St George’s Hanover Square churches

Like the aforementioned parks, the churches in the area provide a space to contemplate and rest in silence. They're also part of the history of the area and London as a whole.

All Souls Church at Langham Place was designed by John Nash who designed Buckingham Palace and the Royal Pavillion in Brighton. St George's Church, on the other hand, was attended by composer George Frederick Handel when he lived nearby.

Magazine stalls

Just behind Oxford Circus station, on your way to Liberty London, there's a good old stall with a guy selling independent magazines and popular titles. You can buy some good reads to take with you on a walk and have a chat with the seller.

Those things are rarity nowadays, when you can read or purchase pretty much everything online. For those who, like me, are into magazines, this is a place to visit.

It'll be a sheer pleasure to sit on the kerb of one of the busiest streets in the world knowing that nothing will run over you.

Oxford Street is a great start and end point for so many other short and long walks.

One of my favourite things to do is to stroll through the little streets of Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia. They hide so many treasures that it's hard to write about all of them.

One of them being Pollock's Toy Museum & Shop. If you’re a fan of bygone era, you’ll like it there. The atmosphere of the area is terrific - you're in central London but you don't feel like that at all.

On my list of walks to do, I still have a bit more detailed exploration of Edgware Road. I would like to know better the way to Paddington station and pedestrianised Oxford Street will be a good reason to get back to this idea. 

Finally, when the dream comes true I'll look up without a risk of being run over and will be able to take pictures of the architecture. 

Once I've seen and done all that I'll grab a treat from Nordic Bakery and a coffee from the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs at Lowndes Court,  I'll sit on a kerbside observing the crowds and listening to the conversations of those passing by. You can learn so much from that and it'll be a sheer pleaseure to sit on the kerb of one of the busiest streets in the world knowing that nothing will run over you.

That's something worth waiting for.

 

Oxford Street Pride

Photo: Joanna Sopylo-Firrisa

Joanna Sopylo-Firrisa is a writer and a blogger.

She loves walking in the cities like London and sharing her finding with others on her blog Walk & Talk.

You can read more about things to see near Oxford Circus there. You'll also find there more inspiration for walking in London.

You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Walking Cities London

Get up to date on our campaign to make Oxford Street a world-leading walking destination.

Walking Cities: London