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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.

I couldn’t help myself back in April when the idea of a diagonal crossing for Oxford Circus was was first publicised, and I cannot help myself now: BALHAM GOT THERE FIRST!

Of course, it would be dishonest to pretend Balham’s was the world’s first diagonal crossing. Without wanting to waste officer time getting a precise answer a search on the council’s website reveals the idea was first proposed in 2002 and, by 2005, had been implemented (both links open PDFs) – so it is only between four and seven years old.

But it’s slightly galling to hear Oxford Circus praised as a “a triumph for British engineering, Japanese innovation and good old fashioned common sense” when actually that’s what Balham is – Oxford Circus is just a copy.

(I’m not the only one defending Balham’s good name; Adam Bienkov has also covered it on the ToryTroll blog, Dave Cross bemoans Balham’s lack of credit at and Jon Silk, in his PR Geek blog, suggests Balham’s diagonal crossing isn’t as well used as it could be.)

Regrettably this post has caused some considerable offence, which was never my intention – please see Oxford Circus: An apology.