Shibuya-style pedestrian crossing to trial in Orchard Road from Dec 16

Pedestrians crossing at the junction of Orchard Link and Orchard Road. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Orchard Road will be conducting a month-long trial of a scramble pedestrian crossing a la Tokyo's famous junction at Shibuya district starting from Dec 16, in a bid to make the precinct more pedestrian-friendly.

Shoppers will be able to cross the Cairnhill Road-Orchard Road intersection diagonally, such as from H&M to Robinsons at The Heeren directly, for a period of 30 seconds in each instance.

The trial will take place every weekend and public holidays from Dec 16 until Jan 28.

Chairman of the Orchard Road Business Association (Orba) Mark Shaw made the announcement at a press conference at Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza on Friday (Nov 24).

Calling it a "proof of concept", Mr Shaw said the purpose of the scrambled walk is to improve pedestrian connectivity along Orchard Road.

"Trialling this during the year-end festive period is quite timely. It helps us to provide pedestrians with better access to the enhanced Christmas activities within the precinct," he said.

It will be the second time that such a scramble walk will be trialled at the shopping district. A previous six-month trial took place at the Bideford Road-Orchard Road junction in December 2006.

The Orba initiative, supported by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Land Transport Authority, might be expanded if the trial proves successful, added Mr Shaw.

Ms Esther Ho, deputy director at Nanyang Polytechnic's School of Business Management, said the trial is a good first step to enhance the shopping experience in Orchard Road.

"From a shopper's perspective, when you ease the traffic congestion by making it easier to cross, it might provide a more relaxed environment for them to lengthen their time in Orchard Road," she said.

In April, a multi-way cross-junction was one of the ideas that Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran said was being explored to rejuvenate the precinct, which has been hit by a weak retail landscape and faces increasing competition from e-commerce in recent years.

On the other ideas raised, STB said: "We are exploring some of these ideas as part of longer-term plans for rejuvenating Orchard Road. More details will be shared when ready.

"Meanwhile, short-term initiatives have been and will continue to be rolled out to enhance the precinct's street-level vibrancy, such as the Star Wars activation in Orchard Road in September."

One of the other ideas, to use parcels of state land for ad hoc events, has already been implemented earlier this month.

Invade, the organisers behind Artbox Singapore, announced that the open-air carpark in Grange Road will be transformed into a creative market by day and neon-lit party space by night from Dec 9 to 30.

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Friday's media briefing was followed by the launch of the first Christmas Village, organised by Orba and located at Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza, where a pyrotechnics display was shown.

The fireworks show will take place during the Christmas Eve countdown concert at the market. The Christmas Village features more than 25 brands and will last for a month, starting on Saturday. It is co-organised by Sphere Exhibits, a subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings.

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