London Gets a Japanese Makeover

by Tanya Thomas on  November 5, 2009 at 8:46 AM Lifestyle News   - G J E 4
The Japanese have left their mark on London's famed Oxford Circus, the heart of the city's West End shopping and entertainment district. The place got a Tokyo-style makeover with a new "scramble crossing" layout.
 London Gets a Japanese Makeover
London Gets a Japanese Makeover

London Mayor Boris Johnson launched the new scheme, aimed at cutting crowd congestion and the lengthy traipse round the interchange. People are now able to walk diagonally across to their destination in a pedestrian free-for-all.

The design, which also saw barriers and street clutter ripped out, is based on a busy crossing in Shibuya, the Japanese capital's equivalent of London's West End.

"This project is a triumph for British engineering, Japanese innovation and good old-fashioned common sense," Johnson said.

"The head-scratching frustration caused by the previous design is over and we've brought one of the world's greatest crossroads into the 21st 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."

The changes cost five million pounds (8.2, million dollars, 5.5 million euros) and took six months to complete. Johnson's office said it would be Europe's busiest diagonal crossing.

In homage to the crossing's Japanese origins, Johnson struck a two-metre (yard) gong as Japanese musicians played taiko drums.

At peak periods, up to 32,000 pedestrians per hour pass through Oxford Circus, the intersection of Regent Street and Oxford Street.

"Taking our inspiration from the Far East makes perfect sense as the Japanese have perfected the art of managing large numbers of people through good design and engineering," said Westminster City Council leader Colin Barrow.

Source: AFP

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