London's Mayor , Ken Livingstone ,has revealed plans to give London's main shopping street a makeover. Oxford street is claustrophobic and dirty, choked by buses and with pavements so crowdedthat campaigners have often called for a "fastlane" in which dawdling would be prohibited (I wish they'd do that in my supermarket !)
But 'Red' Ken today revealed the proposal of a monorail as a radical solution to Oxford Street's transport gridlock.
It would run on a track 50ft above the heads of shoppers - making it possible to pedestrianise the street. The idea has been drawn up by engineers KBR with the backing of Lord Rogers, the Mayor's leading architectural adviser.
He outlined the need to create a more "civilised" environment, allowing Oxford Street to compete with outof-town shopping centres such as Bluewater in Kent.
Ian Wilder, the Westminster councillor behind the monorail scheme, said his dream was a system that would run the mile-length of the street and link it with Piccadilly Circus.
It would also serve a new convention centre - either at the Royal Mail depot in Rathbone Place, at the eastern end of Oxford Street, or beneath Marble Arch.
He said it would be far easier to introduce than a tram - mooted by Ken Livingstone - because underground utilities and water mains would not have to be moved at vast expense.
Mr Wilder said: "The thing that will change Oxford Street is the monorail. The point is that monorails work. They form other interesting opportunities - we can morph the stations into the side of buildings. Someone going to Oxford Street could go into Selfridges, avoiding the wet, and go down the escalator to the street. The monorail is also a lot cheaper than a tram. It doesn't rule out doing other things and having vehicles underneath such as taxis."