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Pedestrianise Soho and the City of London, says Patrik Schumacher

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Swathes of central London should become car-free zones, Zaha Hadid Architects principal Patrik Schumacher has told Mayor of London Sadiq Khan

The practice is exhibiting its Walkable London proposals at the New London Architecture Galleries at the Building Centre this month.

A map produced by Zaha Hadid Architects for the exhibition imagines four main areas of the capital eventually being pedestrianised, roughly covering Soho, the City of London, the South Bank and Clerkenwell. Before this, a grid of major car-free streets would be created across the heart of the capital.

Schumacher insisted the proposals are viable and said he had formally put them to the mayor’s office.

‘The final vision may seem shocking and “out there” but we would start with two lines [routes], bring them in just on weekends at first, so it becomes a tangible proposition and it just needs someone to champion it. Not me, someone in the political domain. I have put it forward as a consultation response to the mayor’s draft transport strategy.’  

Speaking at a Future Cities Forum presentation on Walkable London, Schumacher added that people could be encouraged to walk to Tube stations within these zones.

‘As a benchmark we can use airports,’ he said. ‘We just designed a Beijing airport with a large terminal without trains. The rule of thumb is you can walk 650m.’

Some bus routes should be handed over to walkers, he added.

‘I walk around London all the time and instinctively you use secondary [routes] but then you are walking more, winding around, and you have to know London. There is a real problem if you don’t pedestrianise some of those lines. It is incredibly unpleasant and unhealthy to walk on the heavily trafficked routes.’

The practice said pedestrianising just a few streets had a limited impact on improving traffic congestion, pollution, safety and public health.

‘London needs an integrated pedestrian network as part of the city’s transport infrastructure,’ it said in a statement.

‘The UK capital has some great examples of pedestrianisation revitalising individual districts. Walkable London presents tangible strategies to connect these disparate pedestrianised zones.’

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