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City to try out pedestrian scrambles

A pedestrian scramble, also known as a 'X' Crossing (UK), diagonal crossing (US), scramble intersection (Canada), and, more poetically, a Barnes Dance, is a pedestrian crossing system that stops all vehicular traffic and allows pedestrians to cross an intersection in every direction, including diagonally, at the same time. But is Vancouver ready for this?  City Hall plans to try a few out.

Shibuya Pedestrian Scramble, one of the world's best known
Shibuya pedestrian scramble. Source: Wikipedia

In its latest draft transportation plan Transportation 2040, City Hall renewed its commitment to developing pilot pedestrian scrambles at various intersections in the Robson Street corridor and other parts in the downtown core, but did not commit to any specific start dates or locations.

A pedestrian scramble, also known as a 'X' Crossing (UK), diagonal crossing (US), scramble intersection (Canada), and, more poetically, a Barnes Dance, is a pedestrian crossing system that stops all vehicular traffic and allows pedestrians to cross an intersection in every direction, including diagonally, at the same time.

The City of Vancouver first announced its intentions to pilot scramble crosswalks in December 2011.

"We're looking at data of vehicle crossing intersection count," said the City's director of transportation Jerry Dobrovolny in a telephone interview. "Once we've done that we'll do consultations."

Vancouver was one of the first cities in North America to have scramble crosswalks in 1953, followed by other cities like Toronto, New York, San Francisco, and and Los Angeles. Many were later in the 1970s removed due to heavy traffic congestion.

The scramble crosswalk on Hastings and Granville Streets in Vancouver in the 1950s. Photo by Demian_Rueter on Flickr.

The city will continue examining data from pedestrian safety zones, such as the ones implemented last year on Hastings Street between Abbott and Jackson Streets where the city enforced 30 km per hour speed limits. No new zones were proposed in the report.

The draft transportation plan released on Monday contains 187 directives aimed at increasing biking, walking and public transit to two-thirds of all modes of transport in the city. Members of the public are invited to give feedback about any part of the plan online at TalkVancouver.com until July 13.

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