in London, Wandsworth

Oxford Circus: An apology

In previous posts on this blog I have made comparisons between the Oxford Circus diagonal crossing and the crossing installed some years ago at Balham. These suggested that Balham should have received more credit for installing such a crossing and being one of the first – if not the first – in the country.

I was wrong.

It has since been pointed out to me that such a comparison was foolish and misleading.

I want to say sorry to friends and family who must feel let down by my comments, and can only hope that – in time – I can make amends. I also want to apologise to Westminster Council, who clearly have the right to install crossings without anyone suggesting similar crossings had been installed elsewhere in the country. I regret reading too much into headlines like ‘Oxford Street opens first diagonal pedestrian system’. But most of all I want to apologise unreservedly to Oxford Circus, and hope my comments have not detracted from the enjoyment of the many thousands who will be using the crossing.

As part of making amends, I am pleased to be able to print a statement from Westminster City Council’s Press Office below.

Martin Low, City Commissioner for Transportation at Westminster City Council, said: “I’m extremely flattered that Wandsworth council is so impressed by our new Japanese-inspired diagonal crossing that its members now wish to draw parallels to a diagonal crossing in Balham built in 2005. But with all due respect, the Shibuya crossing in Tokyo has far similar challenges in terms of handling huge numbers of pedestrians to Oxford Circus, than Balham.

“The West End attracts 200 million visitors a year and the engineering involved in developing and building the Oxford Circus crossing, which handles 38,000 pedestrians an hour at its peak, is nothing like the relatively simple crossing suitable for an area like Balham. Also, we never claimed it was the first – the Japanese got there around two decades before us both.”

I hope that the Oxford Circus and Balham crossings can join me in putting this unfortunate incident behind us and concentrating on a future of pedestrian road safety.

Leave a Reply

  1. Goodness those Westminster types are pompous. We South Londoners must stand firm against Northern oppression. The truth must come out! Balham was first in London!

  2. Sorry, back again, after following Simon Cast’s links above.

    Pity Westminster didn’t consult Wikipedia before committing their £5M –

    ” some traffic engineering textbooks discourage the pedestrian scramble except in low-volume rural and suburban intersections where there may be a safety benefit.”

  3. I must side with Westminster, against these Zone 3 suburbanites. It’s plain to see that the Westminster crossing is unique, world-leading and revolutionary – it’s got innumerable extra features that “relatively simple” one in Balham doesn’t – like, errr, a decorative circle painted in the centre, and… Still, I’m sure all the extra features were well worth the bargainous £5 million price tag.

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