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London to pedestrianize Oxford Circus

I was just reading about London’s plans to pedestrianize Oxford Circus with two new semi-circular pedestrian piazzas (pictured above). And it reminded of two things.

One, there are silver linings to this pandemic. And one of them is that it has forced us to rethink how we allocate public space and how we engage with it. It is incredible seeing Toronto right now with so many outdoor patios in full swing. Why eat inside when you can eat outside? We should have been doing this all along.

Two, the transformation of Toronto’s Yonge Street cannot happen fast enough. We are sorely missing a pedestrianized spine through the middle of our downtown. This portion of Yonge Street currently looks like shit and I know that we can do much better.

Think La Rambla in Barcelona. Grafton Street in Dublin. Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. These are the streets that seem to always draw you in. They are places where public life can play out. I’m pretty sure that I have never once visited any of these cities and not walked these streets.

Thankfully Yonge Street’s transformation is underway. So let’s make it truly remarkable and one of the most beautiful streets in the world. That should be the bar we set for ourselves.

Image: Westminster City Council

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