Everybody scramble!

Oxford Circus in London has just opened its new scramble crossing. The Brits seem suitably amazed by the whole concept.

[Mayor of London, Boris] Johnson said the crossing, controlled by traffic lights, was “a triumph for British engineering, Japanese innovation and good old fashioned common sense”.

BBC News Online

While it beats me how they spent 5 million pounds on it, perhaps it’s time Melbourne looked at putting in more of these. As I noted in June, at present we’ve only got one, Elizabeth Street and Flinders Street.

I can think of a few other spots that could benefit, including Spencer Street at Collins and at Bourke, Swanston and Latrobe, and maybe even Swanston and Flinders.

Curiously, when I lived there in 2003-2005, the corner of Murrumbeena Road and Neerim Road in Murrumbeena would occasionally kick into a phase which halted all traffic and allowed pedestrians to cross both N-S and E-W. From memory it was related to the nearby railway crossing. I haven’t been back there recently to look.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

12 replies on “Everybody scramble!”

Bourke St is pretty much a scramble, having the greatest number of “idiot pedestrian running against the lights (that are quick to change anyway) and almost getting collected by a tram” incidents in the CBD.

Five million pound!!! Wow. But looks like it works well. As Keat said, yes the lights at Murrumbeena do still bring up all directions walk, as do the lights at High Street and Malvern Road, also train related.

Before praising this, do we know whether the change increased cycle times?

If so, as hinted here, it may delay straight crossers compared to what existed before.

In Perth where some exist there are more straight crossers than diagonal crossers. If this also holds true elswhere most pedestrians would lose rather than gain.

If there had to be a choice, I’d always go the higher frequency option – ie 30 or 45 second cycles and convential crossings rather than 60-90 second cycles and diagonal crossings.

Where intermodal transfers and pedestrian crowding make diagonal crossings desirable (as in parts of Melbourne) then there’s probably high enough pedestrian demand to justify cycle shortening as well. The other gain here would be better footpath space utilisation.

Thanks Peter; true, the timings are critical.

By the way, found another Melbourne scramble crossing in Footscray: corner of Droop/Nicholson/Barkly Sts.

What’s really silly about Boris’ media launch of Oxford Circus is that there are already several intersections in London that let all the pedestrians go at the same time, but they don’t have enormous lines painted on the road to show you it’s ok to cross diagonally. I get some horrified looks when I dare to do it.
That said, Oxford Circus was a complete mess before, so this should be a huge improvement.

I don’t really understand why this is newsworthy? Sure, Oxford Circus was a mess before, but these types of intersection are not really new – we have many here in Sydney, and as other commenters have mentioned, there are others in London…

And 5 million pounds? Wow. Must be a damn good crossing!

Brisbane has had 1.5 scramble crossings for at least 20 years… Don’t think it cost us anything like this!

We have one on Adeldaide and Edward – near Central Station. It has been there for as long as I can remember.

And on George and Mary Street there is a half (because it is a T Intersection) which only ever has one light for pedestrians and two for cars – one across the T and one up to the T.

There work fantasically well – and I don’t think we needed to borrow them from Japan….

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