Should Toronto add more scramble intersections?
I like my intersections like I like my eggs - scrambled. Now that's out of the way, it's been five years since the city introduced us to the wonders of the scramble intersection. Remember that initial hesitance, followed by that liberating feeling of the first time you walked diagonally across a busy intersection? It was a novelty in 2008, but five years into the pilot project is the love lost?
Three intersections across the city have already been pedestrianized: Bay/Bloor, Yonge/Dundas and Yonge/Bloor. So far these locations have been chosen to increase pedestrian safety be reducing crowding on busy street corners. On a typical weekday during an 8-hour period there are 68,600 pedestrian crossings at Yonge/Dundas, 59,000 at Yonge/Bloor, and 42,200 at Bay/Bloor, outstripping vehicle traffic through the lights.
It's disputed whether these intersections are a success, and that probably comes down to whether you are on foot or not - is the incrementally longer driving time worth it for the convenience of those on foot, or is the gridlock too dire?
So far Toronto's scramble intersections haven't reached any further north than Bloor St., but the City confirms that there has been some demand for a scramble at Yonge and Eglington. The Yonge and Eglington area has less foot traffic than the overflowing corners downtown and could pose some problems with timing. Currently all three scramble intersections run on a consistent 24-hour cycle with no changes to accommodate rush hour. The city has also received plenty of calls for a scramble intersection at Bay and Front, but this intersection is further complicated by already clogged rush hour car traffic and would also require some special timing considerations.
City of Toronto project officer Janet Lo maintains there are no plans to expand any more scramble intersections at this time. The current pilot project is still under review by the city with a report expected in early 2013. Additionally, last year Public Works chairman Denzil Minnan-Wong called into question how practical these crossings are and called for an additional outside consultant's review. Until these intersections are dissected and examined there won't be any more expansion, but public where do you think the city could use a scramble intersection most?
An earlier version of this article stated that the outside consultant's review of scramble crossings cost $375,000. This number actually covers the entire Downtown Transportation Operations Study. Much of the review of scramble intersections is being conducted by city staff.
Writing by Matt Stephen / Photo by Roger Cullman