Vancouver Introduces New Type of Intersection: The Scramble

Since the dawn of time, mankind has crossed intersections in an orderly fashion.  When the light turns red and traffic in one direction stops, you cross.  Meanwhile, traffic flowing in the other direction whizzes on by.

But is that the best way to do it?

Vancouver doesn’t think so.¬† The city is planning to test a radical new type of intersection called a scramble – and it’s just as exciting as it sounds.¬† Car traffic will be stopped in all directions at once.¬† Pedestrians can then cross any way they choose, even – get ready for it – diagonally.

The new scramble intersection will be rolled out sometime soon along Robson Street, the Vancouver Sun reports.¬† While it may potentially slow traffic, the big advantage is that it can dramatically reduce car-pedestrian collisions.¬† Because autos and people cross the street at different times, there’s less of a chance of someone being struck by a vehicle making a turn into a crosswalk.

But will it work?¬† Apparently, the scramble isn’t really anything new.¬† Pedestrians have long been scrambling in other countries, where the intersections are also known by such colourful names as Barnes dances, pedestrian scramble phases, X crossings and diagonal crossings.¬† Here’s perhaps the world’s most famous scramble, in Tokyo:

Plus, for the last year Vancouver has had a scramble right in its own backyard.  Richmond premiered one of the intersections last year at Number 1 Road and Moncton Street.  Despite some criticism from drivers, the Richmond scramble has been successful at improving access for pedestrians.

No word yet on exactly where the Robson Street scramble will be located or when it will be introduced.  But I have a feeling it will be a welcomed change.  Pretty much year-round, Robson sidewalks are jammed with shoppers, tourists and foreign-exchange students.  Meanwhile, the street is one of the main arteries for car traffic through the city.  The combination of so many people and so many vehicles can make crossing the street a risky proposition.

What do you think of the new scramble intersection?  Is it needed?  Will it work? 

Want more updates on Vancouver and beyond?  Follow me on Twitter @RemyScalza. 

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