Westminster Council is keen to remind London that its OxfordCircusX-shapedpedestrian crossing has now been open for a year. This is not news. But earlier in the week Westminster's PR hotshots managed to propel this non-story into the mediasphere through careful use of hyperbolic language. Indeed, they even got the BBC to regurgitate key points from the press release with no additional independent reporting whatsoever. Watch and learn.
90 million people, apparently. Yes, it's that old favourite, the use of statistics to justify any old crap. It is patently not true that 90 million different people have used the crossing, instead rather a lot of people have used it several times each. Anything for a headline. It gets worse.
No, that's not true either. The crossing may be an X shape, but nobody's crossed it diagonally in an X. They might have done a / or a \ but they couldn't have done both simultaneously. And let's not forget that a significant proportion of the 90 million users actually went | or instead. This is bollocks, masquerading as truth.
Absolutely not. Only visitors to Oxford Circus have found more freedom to get around, not visitors to the West End as a whole. And where has that 70% figure come from? How does anyone actually measure percentage increase in freedom? I assume they've measured length of crossing (four sides of a square plus two diagonals is about 70% longer then the perimeter of the square alone). But that's geometry, not reality.
No it hasn't. Not amongst sane people anyway, not after the initial week it opened. No tourist flies into London and thinks "Buckingham Palace, Tower of London, Oxford Circus pedestrian crossing." Get a grip.
But Councillor Barrow deserves a slap for that tosh. Sneaking in a reference to the X Factor, because some marketing wizard told him to, is pitiful. Using the word 'destination' in a PR-branding sense is just sad. And sorry, but two American tourists telling the folks back home about their diagonal jaywalk certainly doesn't make for a genuine 'international talking point'.
To their shame, the BBC cut and pasted this ridiculous claim word for word. I'm sure we can all think of far more significant improvements to London's public realm since 1985 than some extra traffic lights. The pedestrianisation of Trafalgar Square, for example, or the development of Docklands. Please, would responsible news gathering organisations stop and think before parroting this drivel?
That's "Richard Dickinson said", with the most ludicrously long job title sandwiched in the middle to ensure that every relevant stakeholder is suitably plugged. This is how PR folk write. This is not normal English.
Oh please, you're just embarrassing yourselves now. Yes, hurrah, Oxford Circus today is a considerably nicer place to walk than it was previously. Really, genuinely, hugely improved. But this anniversary press release scores nothing but a great big cross.