Scramble crossing at Orchard Road gets green light from pedestrians

Yesterday was the first time shoppers could cross the Cairnhill Road-Orchard Road intersection diagonally. The trial, to make the shopping precinct more pedestrian-friendly, will take place every weekend and public holiday until Jan 28.
Yesterday was the first time shoppers could cross the Cairnhill Road-Orchard Road intersection diagonally. The trial, to make the shopping precinct more pedestrian-friendly, will take place every weekend and public holiday until Jan 28.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

It's faster and convenient, they say, on first day of trial at Cairnhill-Orchard intersection

The scramble crossing trial in Orchard Road was well received by pedestrians on its first day yesterday, as many enjoyed the convenience and time saved.

Yesterday was the first time shoppers could cross the Cairnhill Road-Orchard Road intersection diagonally - it was the first such experiment in more than a decade.

The trial, to make the precinct more pedestrian-friendly, was announced by the chairman of the Orchard Road Business Association, Mr Mark Shaw, last month.

It will take place every weekend and public holiday until Jan 28.

Traffic wardens stationed at the junction provided guidance and encouraged those who were hesitant to cross, as many were unaware it was the first day of the trial.

Ms Siti Zanariah, 33, a sales supervisor, said: "It's great that shoppers will now be able to walk in any direction they like, and they might be more encouraged to walk across Orchard Road. Previously, some would stay on only one side."

More time was given for those crossing from H&M to Victoria's Secret as that stretch was the most crowded when The Sunday Times visited the area in the afternoon.

Customer service worker Airene Tan, 38, liked the idea of the scramble walk, and suggested it could be applied to other busy junctions too.

Others such as Singapore Institute of Technology undergraduate Chuah Peixin, 23, said while the walk might be good for pedestrians, it might pose inconvenience to drivers. "I saw some cars almost getting into an accident, but it might just be because it's the first day, (so) people are still getting used to it," she said.

The previous trial at the junction of Orchard Road and Bideford Road lasted six months, starting in 2006.

Its aim was to test the potential of a scramble crossing with light projections. However, the project was dropped as the trial, done in the evening on Fridays, Saturdays and the eve of public holidays, "indicated it would not meet our objective of generating buzz and interest", said the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), in response to queries from The Sunday Times.

STB added: "The... scramble-crossing trial at the Cairnhill Road-Orchard Road junction is fundamentally different from the 2006/2007 scramble walk in intent and operationalisation as it serves a more functional purpose - that is, to make it easier for pedestrians to access the various activities on both sides of Orchard Road."

Elsewhere, pedestrians have been able to cross diagonally at the junction of Boon Tat Street and Robinson Road for almost 20 years.

Mr Shaw said last month that the results of the trial will determine whether it will be expanded.

Dr Seshan Ramaswami, an associate professor of marketing education at Singapore Management University, said the innovation might give Singaporeans a reason to visit Orchard Road. "But... I don't think this will radically transform the attractiveness of that once-premier shopping belt."

However, more entertainment and service offerings, such as small auditoriums, spas and unusual restaurants, are factors that cannot be matched online, and are things that Orchard Road malls should consider introducing, he added.



ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Orchard Road's scramble crossing a big hit

A trial for a new scramble crossing in Orchard Road began yesterday, with many pedestrians saying they appreciated the convenience and time saved. The trial will take place every weekend and public holiday until Jan 28, and allow pedestrians to cross the Cairnhill Road-Orchard Road intersection diagonally. It is part of efforts to make Singapore's premier shopping district more conducive for pedestrians, following plans announced earlier this year to revamp Orchard Road.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 17, 2017, with the headline 'Scramble crossing gets green light from pedestrians'. Print Edition | Subscribe