£5M Work to renovate the congested Oxford Circus crossing on London’s busiest street begins today, to create diagonal crossings designed by Atkins similar to those at Tokyo’s iconic Shibuya crossing.
Oxford Circus is where London’s two main shopping streets – Oxford Street and Regent Street – meet. Those exiting the tube station are currently greeted by an intensely congested and disorientating scene.
Atkins project manager Chris Greenwood, said: “By using the latest 3D modelling techniques we were able effectively to put 5000 people into the redesigned crossing area to see what would happen.
“The results we got indicated the design changes should have a massively beneficial effect.
“While this was a virtual simulation the software we’re now using is so realistic we are totally confident the real world results will be just as good,” he said.
Transforming the crossings will improve the experience for visitors and shoppers. The designated pedestrian crossings on each of the four roads entering Oxford Circus will be enhanced by two diagonal crossings across the centre of the junction, which will link with each corner.
Traffic lights will be rephased so that vehicles from all four directions will be stopped simultaneously for 30 seconds allowing people to walk safely across the junction diagonally. The complete traffic sequence will be 115-120 seconds.
Westminster City Council’s cabinet member for environment and transport Cllr Danny Chalkley said: “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, and the West End, like Tokyo’s Shibuya district, is a fashion and entertainment hub which attracts visitors in huge numbers.
“This new crossing, which will transform Oxford Circus and ensure visitors who emerge from the Tube are impressed by what greets them, is part of a whole series of improvements taking place to ensure the West End looks truly world class in time for 2012,” he said.
Designs are based on those at Tokyo’s Shibuya crossing, also an area famed for its shopping and pedestrians.
Existing barriers and street clutter will be removed and the pavement remodelled to give pedestrians more freedom. The redesigned road will double the amount of pavement and more space around the exits to Oxford Circus Tube station will be freed up.
More than half a kilometre of both Regent Street and Oxford Street will be redesigned with wider pavements and new lighting.
According to Managing Director for Surface Transport at TfL, David Brown: “The new diagonal layout will deliver a vastly improved crossing for pedestrians and upgraded public realm.”
The thoughts are echoed by the chief executive of the New West End Company, Richard Dickinson: “The improvements to the Oxford Circus Diagonals are just one of many outstanding enhancements resulting from over £2bn of investment into London’s West End. 250,000 people enter or leave Oxford Circus station every day so it’s essential that their first ground-level view and experience of the West End is pleasing.
“Our vision for Regent Street is of a quality international shopping destination, a successful business location and a place for people,” he said.
‘Oases’ will be 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.
Contractor West One will also carrying out major work below ground as well as above it as part of the remodelling of the crossing, and use Princes Street as a depot during construction.
The new crossing is due to reopen in time for the Regent Street and Oxford Street Christmas lights switch ons in November.
The revamped Oxford Circus is being funded by The Crown Estate, which owns Regent Street in its entirety and Transport for London, and is supported by the New West End Company which represents businesses in Bond Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street.
- Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street together generate more than £5.5bn of sales per year, a gross a higher retail spend than Manchester and Birmingham combined.
- Retail employment for more than 45,000 people – 30% of all London jobs in cinema and theatre are in the West End
- 200M people visit the West End every year
- Only 36,000 people live in the West End
- 1,200 vehicles per hour
- 170,000 people get on or off buses in Oxford Street each weekday
- Five underground stations serve the area and are used by more than 100M passengers a year.
- 40 theatres that contribute around £1bn to the UK economy every year
- 100M shopping visits every year.
- More retail space than Paris or Rome
- 285,000 jobs with more than 13,000 in the entertainment industry.