14+ Million Plays of Livable Streets Vids!
Browse Terms of Use

Barnes Dance!

First we pummeled the Bike Box. Then we pulled a bit of Chicane-ry. Next up, get ready to shuffle your feet to the thought of Barnes Dancing!

There's only one place we know of in Manhattan (please tell us of others!) where you can go out and do it: the Barnes Dance intersection of 17th Street & Broadway. There you'll find red lights in all directions for about 17-18 seconds or so, allowing pedestrians to have an exclusive phase in which to cross safely. You can even groove it diagonally if you wish. So get out and dance; no cover charge.

[intro music]

Speaker.: [00:06] Barnes Dance.


All: [00:09] Barnes Dance.

Speaker: [00:10] Barnes Dance.

Speaker: [00:10] Barnes Dance.

Speaker: [00:11] Barnes Dance.


Speaker: [00:14] Barnes Dance.

Speaker: [00:15] Barnes Dance.

Speaker: [00:16] Barnes Dance.

Clarence Eckerson Jr.: [00:18] Here we are in Manhattan in the northwest nook of Union Square at the intersection of 17th and Broadway where you can find an exclusive pedestrian crossing phase. It’s a phenomenon known as the Barnes Dance.

All: [00:30] Barnes Dance.


Clarence Eckerson Jr.: [00:34] The Barnes Dance, which is also known as the Pedestrian Scramble, is an intersection control system where car traffic is stopped in all directions, making it easier for pedestrians to cross. In this case, on 17th Street, for a period of exactly 17 seconds, you’ll find red lights all around so walkers can navigate the intersection without fear of cars. Barnes Dances exist in targeted areas throughout the world, including in San Francisco and Melbourne. But probably the most photographed one could be found in Tokyo in Hachiko Square.

Speaker: [01:06] Barnes Dance.

Speaker: [01:08] Barnes Dance.

Speaker: [01:09] Barnes Dance.

Speaker: [01:09] Barnes Dance.

Speaker: [01:11] Barnes Dance.

Speaker: [01:12] Barnes Dance.

Speaker: [01:12] Barnes Dance.

Speaker: [01:13] Barnes Dance.

Speaker: [01:14] Barnes Dance.

Speaker: [01:15] Barnes Dance.

Speaker: [01:16] Bike Box.



Clarence Eckerson Jr. has been making fantastical transportation media in NYC since the late 1990s. He's never had a driver's license and never will.

Embed Code

Embed This on Your Site

  • Charlie D.

    We have a lot of exclusive pedestrian phases in Somerville, MA, where I live. They are what have historically been installed at most intersections. Unfortunately, they are pretty much all triggered by a button, which peds rarely press, since most peds wait for a gap in traffic or cross concurrently with traffic anyway.

    Concurrent crossings are generally preferred, since the wait time for all road users is less. For example, if a signal is 30 seconds in one direction, 30 seconds in another, and has a 15 second exclusive walk phase, peds may have to wait up to 1 minute in order to cross. Whereas if the ped signals are concurrent, a ped will wait no more than 30 seconds.

  • Christine Berthet

    Silly you , Egg heads ..This is phenomenal !!!!!!!
    we want Barnes Dances everywhere ..

  • killer catch

    this is really fun!

    but i wish you had shot it from above street level.

  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/trorb/ Clarence Eckerson, Jr.

    Killer catch:

    Thanks. You are right, once we got there we thought it would look better from above, but it was enough trouble just to find six volunteers in the middle of the day and we only had about 15 minutes to shoot impromptu.

  • Charlie D.

    I should add that in some intersections in downtown Boston, where there is heavy ped traffic, there is an exclusive (or Barnes) phase in ADDITION to the usual concurrent walk signs. This works quite well, in my opinion.

  • Brian

    You can also do the Barnes Dance! at Chambers & Centre Streets (right near the Brooklyn Bridge).

  • steveo


    Also, there's one in front of Penn Station at 32nd and 7th Ave.

  • Ken

    Do you have to return the yellow caps after you cross?

  • peter

    Yellow hats were key--So good.

  • ecm

    A wise friend says, "You gotta make it fun for people to join in." Way to make this fun!

  • 2nd Ave boy

    There are a few along Second Ave between 23rd & 34th Streets where 2nd meets a one way street that only comes off 2nd going westbound. This happens because there are a lot of blocked off blocks between 1st & 2nd.

  • stefan

    they have this in seattle by pike's and in Reno under the Reno arch

  • http://www.gettingaroundportland.org timo forsberg

    Growing up in New Haven, I remember several intersections like this. The diagonal crossing was the funnest - except for that one time, when I was in first grade, when the cop yelled at me for leaving the curb too late. It ruined my whole day. (But made me more careful at intersections ever since...)

  • Joe Duxbury

    There used to be several of these along the main street (Hay Street?)in Perth, WA. Are they still there?

  • JB

    There's a Barnes Dance at 11th Street and Broadway.