Soho. London’s bustling network of narrow streets and trendy boutiques, wedged into W1, cosy and intimate.
For so long now, London’s multicultural red light district has enjoyed a reputation for being the heart and soul of London’s food, fashion, creativity and, yes, erotica.
‘In many ways, Soho is the historic heart of London. It’s home to the capital’s café culture, creativity, design and the evening economy.’
Yet the area has recently been at the centre of a debate over the future of its pedestrian-friendly streets, as vehicles have become increasingly dominant over the roads that weave through Soho. Mark’s article gets to the heart of the issue – he continues:
‘This unique character is slowly and steadily being eroded with excess, speeding traffic.’
The problem seems simple: Soho’s road system is less a grid of throbbing arteries, and more a network of snaking capillaries. As Mark puts it, ‘Soho, with its intimate, high density feel and narrow streets was never designed to accommodate such heavy volumes of rat-running traffic.’
Mark’s issue surrounds the vehicle versus pedestrian battle: ‘pedestrians have been relegated to narrow overcrowded pavements and are forced to overspill onto the carriageway’ and for Mark this is simply not acceptable. In his view:
‘Instead of being a quality neighbourhood, Soho has become an embarrassment to London.’
Harsh? Blunt, certainly – but Mark’s view is that of a Londoner concerned for the welfare of an area that holds a special place in the city’s make-up: ‘the lifeblood of Soho comes from those who live and work here, and visitors coming to eat and drink here. The area gains little or nothing from speeding through traffic.’
‘A unique place like Soho with so many opportunities deserves better treatment, to maximise its assets’ and Mark’s statistics make gritty reading.
‘In the past two years alone, there were 44 serious traffic accidents reported to the police.’
This led to an outcry from Londoners wanting this to change. The ‘Saving Soho‘ group has been established in light of the issue. Their solution to saving ‘the heart and soul of London’ is to propose the integration of a ‘pedestrian priority works to calm and limit traffic level, and give more priority to pedestrians.’
There’s even a corresponding ‘Saving Soho‘ page on Facebook promoting an online petition ‘to implement pedestrian enhancement works in Soho.’
Will you be signing the petition? Should Soho be made more appealing for pedestrians, or do motorists need access to its winding streets?
As always, get in touch and let us know what you think of Mark’s views.