LA Gets Diagonal Crosswalks (again)
In an effort to improve pedestrian safety and traffic flow, the City of Los Angeles recently installed ten diagonal crosswalks/pedestrian scrambles/Barnes dances (just pick one, they all mean the same) around the metro area. We were able to check one out with Glenn Ogura of LADOT near the USC campus to learn a little bit about them. Golly Jeepers! During some light phases, we saw well over 100 people taking over the intersection - just take a gander at the video.
But as it turns out, this new idea is something old. Thanks to some nifty sleuthing, Eric Richardson of blogdowntown uncovered the fact that the downtown LA area was once littered with two dozen diagonal crosswalks in the late 1950s. Removed in 1958 because a city engineer's report found they impeded car traffic flow, the lesson is obvious: let's not wait another fifty years to deploy a tool to keep pedestrians safe.
And if you want to watch something that now seems extra silly now, we did something fun on Barnes Dances early in the year. You have been warned.
Glenn Ogura: [00:24]
The diagonal crosswalk is an operation where we have an exclusive phase
for both the pedestrians and bicyclists to cross the street. And
as you can see, they have their exclusive pedestrian phase now and we
actually have pedestrian countdown hands which advises them as to how
much time they have left in order to cross the street safely.
One of the benefits is by crossing diagonally, you don’t have to cross
the intersection twice. The second advantage is to separate pedestrians
and bicycles from the vehicles and make it a safer intersection.
You don’t have a situation where you have pedestrians that will interfere
with the turning moves, either left turns or right turns. So that
helps us from a safety perspective by having the exclusive phase.
It seems to help, it makes it faster to cross, and also, I mean it’s
good that all the cars are stopped, cos then you don’t have cars whipping
around the corner as you’re crossing.
It’s fantastic. All the pedestrians, they can go at one time,
and all the cars are stopped, and it’s just wonderful.
Glenn Ogura: [01:25]
What we try to do is use it on streets that are not necessarily major,
major intersections but where they’re all high volumes of pedestrian
traffic and there are a lot of turning moves. We had one place
where we implemented the diagonal crosswalk because the bus operation
is affected by the fact that they can’t turn when pedestrians are
crossing the street. So it will help also bus operations.
[01:47] Earlier this summer Steve Hymon from LA Times was writing about
scramble crossings coming to LA, and something in my head just clicked
that, you know, somewhere I’d read that we had these before.
Well in 1956 the city rolled out a programme doing scramble crossings
at intersections around Downtown, one of which was 7th and
Broadway, which is the intersection right behind us. And they
put the scramble crossings out and they sort of made a big deal about
it and there was several articles about hey, you know, we’re kicking
off this new programme, here’s how you have to use them. Then
in 1958 they had expanded by then to 25 intersections around Downtown,
but the traffic engineer made a report that said that there were effects
on turning movements, you know, that was cause for it to eventually
go away. And in April of 1958 they turned the last scramble crossing
back to normal operation.
[02:45] In this Streetfilm we saw that even in Los Angeles, considered
to be the car capital of America, there’s a lot of innovative things
going on to try and move pedestrians as safely as they can from one
destination to another. Hopefully in Los Angeles today, we don’t
make the same mistake we made 50 years ago and we continue to try and
move more people out of their cars instead of continuing the car dependence
that has led to the congestion that’s unrivalled anywhere in America.