It's one of London's busiest and most polluted streets, notorious for its poor air quality, but Oxford Street is finally cleaning up its act. After a switch from diesel to electric buses and a crackdown on retail deliveries, air pollution has dropped by a third on Europe's busiest shopping street.
TfL introduced plans to ensure that 70 percent of the 262 buses that travel down the street each hour are now electric or low emission. Nitrogen dioxide released by vehicles fell from 86 micrograms per cubic metre in 2016, down from 135 micrograms in 2015 – a drop of 30 percent. The Mayor of London Sadiq Kahn, who pledged £875 million to fight pollution in the capital, welcomed the news.
'The improvement in Oxford Street’s air quality is welcome news and testament to the changes that we have been making not only in this area, but to the entire bus and taxi fleet in London. This is only the beginning and there’s still a lot more work to be done in the battle against London’s toxic air', he said.
He's not wrong. Parts of London breached the annual air pollution limit just five days into 2017 and levels on Oxford Street remain in breach of EU regulation every year. But progress is being made. In 2015 Oxford Street breached toxic limits for 1,391 hours, but last year this fell to 163 hours – an 88 percent decrease. Sadiq Khan also has grand plans to pedestrianise Oxford Street completely by 2020, which should help clean up our city's air.
Now if only there was something we could do about those pesky slow-walking tourists.