Singapore's Orchard Road takes on Tokyo's world-famous Shibuya crossing

Singapore to conduct a month-long pilot of its own Shibuya Crossing along Orchard Road starting December 16.

People walk across Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo, Japan (Pexels)

Singapore is gunning to make Orchard Road more pedestrian-friendly by coalescing the intersections in the area, much like Tokyo's world-renowned Shibuya Crossing. The Orchard Road Business Association (ORBA) will be conducting a month-long trial of Singapore's own scrambling walkers' lanes around the shopping district beginning December 16.

The pilot will allow pedestrians to traverse the Cairnhill Road-Orchard Road crossing diagonally, as well as from H&M to Robinsons The Heeren directly in a span of 30 seconds each way. Target days are weekends and public holidays from December 16 until January 28.

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ORBA chairman Mark Shaw said at a press conference that these planned direct crossings are aimed at making interconnectivity more comfortable for the pedestrians. With the trial to fall just in time for the holiday season, Shaw believes this will be a perfect time to make the most out of Christmas activities.

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

If the trial is deemed successful, he said it might be expanded.

This is not the first time that scrambling lanes will be tested out in the shopping district. Back in December 2006, a half-year pilot also happened at the Bideford Road-Orchard Road intersection.

Esther Ho, deputy director at Nanyang Polytechnic's School of Business Management, said the pilot is a key move to improve shoppers' experience around 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," says Ho.

The Orchard Road crossing pilot has been the initiative of Orba in collaboration with the Singapore Tourism Board, Land Transportation Authority and Urban Redevelopment Authority.

This article was first published on November 25, 2017