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Oxford Circus gets Japanese-style ‘desire line’ crossing

The remodelled Oxford Circus, based on the diagonal Shibuya crossing in Tokyo, Japan, opened this week

Designed by Atkins (AJ 16.04.09), the £5 million scheme features ‘desire lines’ for pedestrians to follow across the congested crossing in the heart of London’s main shopping district.

Used by the 43,000 people and 2,000 vehicles every hour, the junction has new traffic lights, which stop vehicles in all directions during an ‘all-red phase’. Barriers have been removed and pavements widened to create up to 69 per cent more space for pedestrians - up from 312m² to 453m².

In homage to its Far Eastern inspiration, the road was officially opened by London Mayor Boris Johnson who struck a two metre high cymbal as Japanese musicians played taiko drums - and a giant ‘X in the form of 60 metres of red ribbon was unfurled by devotees of cult Japanese Manga characters dressed in colourful costumes’.

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.’

He added: ‘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.’


Readers' comments (12)

  • I don't think they crisscross in Japan? surely its only a matter of time before violence erupts...

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  • Oxford Circus has the X Factor

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  • azhar

    Does it really cost £5,million pounds.....

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  • that inlcudes the fees for all that 'high level' thinking involved

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  • £5m is a nice round number - possibly some journalistic licence? It would be interesting to know what's in and what if anything is out. Construction on the public highway and probably one of the busiest junctions in London, whilst keeping the traffic moving does not come cheap.

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  • ^^^yeah, plus everything is more expensive in London anyway, and it is made out of solid gold afterall...

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  • ^^^ how do you know it works? i take it no-one's spilt their macdonalds coffee on you yet? who are you to say 'nobody likes commentators' what about john motson? everyone love him! why dont you crawl back into the store cupboard at atkins and make a difference in there? meanwhile i'll continue to exercise my right to free speech and say whatever the hell i want about how my taxes are spent.

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  • Lia Ghilardi

    The crossing works, end of story...
    That said, I have to confess to some trepidation any time I stride across that thin line.
    Also, so far, not many people have joined me in the crossing (I did cross a few times last Sunday, for the hell of it) and could not help but noticing that I was virtually the only pedestrian following the NEW route. Do they know something I don't know????????

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  • "the crossing works end of story" ... but not many people use it. i stand corrected you're absolutely right. well done!

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  • Unsure though I am as to how they managed to spend £5M on the project, it works. Now we need to do the same all around London, without the massive publicity. Diagonal crossings are pretty much standard throughout Japan and are effective even in small neighbourhoods.

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  • It’s a cultural thing. Public square's don’t work in Japan because activity is centered around the street and people don’t really congregate in squares the way they do in the west. Likewise I can imagine the intersection of this new crossing (probably around Christmas) to be the site of many a Mexican stand-off; umbrella’s clenched menacingly, daring the tosser in the suit to cut you off. There’s no doubt it’s a great idea, to say flatly ‘it works’ though; well, time will tell…

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