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Oxford Street 'Shibuya' crossing opens

The new £5M ‘Shibuya’-style crossing at London’s Oxford Circus opened yesterday to great fanfare.

Pedestrians can now cross the intersection diagonally as well as in the traditionall mannar. The idea was taken from Tokyo’s famous Shibuya crossing which works in a similar way.

Barriers and street clutter have also been ripped out and remodelled, giving the 200M shoppers and workers per year some 70% more room at the intersection of Regent Street and Oxford Street, and half a kilometre along the streets.

The redesigned road has increased the amount of pavement space by 312m2, up from 453m2 before.

Designed by Atkins, the crossing was funded by The Crown Estate, which owns Regent Street and Transport for London.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “This project is a triumph for British engineering, Japanese innovation and good old fashioned common sense. The head scratching frustration caused by the previous design is over and we’ve brought one of the world’s greatest crossroads into the twenty first century.

“Being able to cross in an oblique rather than a perpendicular fashion will make Oxford Circus incredibly more efficient for the millions of pedestrians and road users that use the crossing every year,” he said.

London’s Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy said: “We were delighted to be able to part fund this hugely innovative scheme. The new diagonal layout will deliver a vastly improved crossing for pedestrians and the additional pavement space will allow easier access to Oxford Circus Tube station which will benefit many thousands of passengers who use the station each day.”

The project took six months to complete and involved complete remodelling above and below ground, including removing old traffic islands and void spaces, whilst keeping traffic moving and catering for millions of pedestrians.

Concrete and metal barriers have been ripped out and paving now boasts top quality and durable York stone which has been coated with special chemical to help make removing chewing gum easier. 

Traffic lights have been rephased so that the vehicles from all four directions are stopped simultaneously for 30 seconds allowing people to walk safely across the junction diagonally. The complete traffic sequence is 115-120 seconds.

As part of the work additional ‘oases’ are being created in nearby side roads Princes Street and Little Argyll Street, which will be part pedestrianised to allow for al fresco dining and possible street entertainment.

Readers' comments (5)

  • Years ago it used to be the Japanese who were accused of copying, no longer the case.

    When traffic lights fail who has the right of way?

    Vehicles should adopt the method of the three and four way stop system operated in South Africa, (a third world country?) first at the stop sign has priority, it does work!

    How about it Britain?

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  • What a load of overblown hype; this is not innovation but just UK politicians, civil servants and highway engineers catching up with the rest of the world! There are many of these types of crossing in New Zealand as well as Japan.

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  • This type of crossing gives larger capacity for pedestrians and smaller capacity for vehicles. Therefore, some of this type of intersections in Japan have been changed to the conventional type due to lower service level for traffic. This article shows a typical successful case, such as Oxford street or Shibuya that has large numbers of pedestrians and can have patience of drivers. We Japanese often learn many things from other countries and always improve to adopt for ourselves, as you can imagine Shinkansen exepress railway in Japan (one of the train car is exhibited in Railway museum in UK), it is not immitation of yours, althogh railway was originally practicised by UK people.

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  • Boris Johnson talks of "common sense", the problem is, it is not so common!

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  • Agree with the comment on over blown hype. Come to Edinburgh or Aberdeen and there are a lot of crossings where diagonal crossing is acceptable. Where is the news in this item

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