Today (May 31) began a test program at the intersection of State Street and Jackson Blvd. in Chicago that allowed people to walk diagonally across the intersection during a preset interval.
The changes in this new pedestrian crossing pattern, called the “pedestrian scramble” (or alternately as the “Barnes Dance”) are supposed to make the intersection safer for pedestrians and easier for traffic.
According to a Chicago Tribune article of today, titled “Loop intersection begins test of ‘pedestrian scramble’” :
The test involves stopping all vehicles — heading east on Jackson and north and south on State — for 35 seconds every third traffic light cycle to let pedestrians cross in all directions, including diagonally.
About 3,000 vehicle crashes involving pedestrians, causing several dozen pedestrian deaths, occur in Chicago each year, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. The city’s pedestrian plan calls for reducing crash-related pedestrian injuries by 50 percent.
According to media sources, this idea of allow pedestrians six ways to cross an intersection is not a new one; however, it is new to the U.S. According to a CBS Chicago article of May 31, titled “Loop Intersection Gets ‘Barnes Dance’ In Effort To Reduce Congestion” :
The pilot program – already proven a success in Denver, Baltimore and New York City – lets pedestrians have the whole intersection for 35 seconds, and then gives drivers their chance.
Additional details and possible updates can be seen in a variety of media sources including the Chicago Tribune and CBS Chicago articles mentioned above.