Orchard Road lights up for Christmas - in 'safer' colours

Orchard Road lit up with blue and white decorations on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013, during a test run of the lights. This year’s light-up, themed Christmas on A Great Street, will be turned on tonight and run till Jan 5. -- ST PHOTOS: CAROLINE CHIA, AL
Orchard Road lit up with blue and white decorations on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013, during a test run of the lights. This year’s light-up, themed Christmas on A Great Street, will be turned on tonight and run till Jan 5. -- ST PHOTOS: CAROLINE CHIA, ALPHONSUS CHERN
Orchard Road decked out for Christmas in 2008. This year’s light-up, themed Christmas on A Great Street, will be turned on tonight and run till Jan 5. -- ST PHOTOS: CAROLINE CHIA, ALPHONSUS CHERN
Orchard Road decked out for Christmas in 2008. This year’s light-up, themed Christmas on A Great Street, will be turned on tonight and run till Jan 5. -- ST PHOTOS: CAROLINE CHIA, ALPHONSUS CHERN

Organisers avoid traffic light colours so motorists will not get confused

Green, red and gold may be traditional Christmas colours, but they are also similar to the ones on traffic lights.

Given that this could lead to motorists confusing yuletide decorations with traffic signals, the Orchard Road Business Association (Orba) has decided, from this year, to avoid the use of these colours for the shopping belt's annual light-up that it organises.

"While we want to create the festive mood, we have to ensure that motorists will not be distracted by the displays," Orba's executive director Steven Goh told The Straits Times. He explained that initial plans to use silver and gold - which is similar to the amber signal of traffic lights - for this year's display were altered.

Instead, the panel of senior Orba and STB representatives which plans and chooses the decorations decided to turn Orchard into a winter wonderland with giant diamonds and snowflakes - all blue and white.

Called Christmas on A Great Street, the lights for the 2.2km stretch from Tanglin Mall to Plaza Singapura will be turned on by President Tony Tan Keng Yam tonight in a ceremony at Shaw House Urban Plaza.

The light-up will run till Jan 5.

The move follows consultations with government agencies, including the Land Transport Authority and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB).

But it has prompted some to ask if organisers and the authorities are being too cautious.

Said marketing executive Lynn Seah, 33, who drives down Orchard Road at least three times a week: "What is Christmas without its iconic colours? Safety is important but which motorist can be so clueless as to mistake fairy lights for traffic lights?"

Investment banker Jeremiah Wong, 32, added: "They are not strobe lights that can blind or distract drivers so I don't think the colours really make any difference to motorists."

But some said the safety concerns are valid. Communications executive Alexis Cai, 25, said: "It may confuse drivers if the design of the decorations is too similar to traffic light structures."

Previous Christmas light-ups - the annual event is in its 30th year - featured colours like red, green, purple and pink.

But STB's director of lifestyle precincts development Tan Yen Nee said event organisers putting up outdoor displays have to consider various guidelines, including those meant to protect road users.

The board will continue to facilitate talks between stakeholders and government agencies on the feasibility of decorations for future events, she said. The LTA added it encourages organisers to avoid using red, green and amber lights near traffic junctions.

Red and green - festive colours for Chinese New Year and Hari Raya - have been used in Chinatown and Geylang Serai. But they are toned down near traffic junctions, said Mr David Tang, whose firm Rich-Art Enterprises is behind this year's Orchard Road light-up and has also dressed up Chinatown and Geylang before.

jermync@sph.com.sg