shibuya crossing

Could We Walk Across Bay and Bloor Diagonally?


As a devoted pedestrian, it's always nice to come across walk-friendly ideas.

Just in time for the current four-day Walk21 Conference (tag line: "Putting Pedestrians First"), a report produced by the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee will get some discussion time (and be discussed by City Council). The proposals in the report describes a bunch of relatively easy-to-implement ideas that are supposed to make walking, biking or TTC-ing more doable.

The report
talks about widening sidewalks, doing an environmental assessment on that proposed east-west bike lane across the city and increasing the length of time pedestrians can walk across busy intersections.

One of the coolest proposals (well, cool if you get excited about subjects like traffic flows and terms like "traffic calming" like I do) is using the "Pedestrian Scramble" (the above pic of the Shibuya crossing in Japan is probably the most famous "scramble" of all). The idea is pretty simple - keep all traffic lights red for a bit in a busy intersection. With all vehicles stopped, pedestrians are free to cross on all sides and can even walk diagonally across. The scramble phase of the intersection, sometimes referred to as the Barnes Dance (for reasons that Wikipedia is best used to explain), has been proposed for a trial run at two hugely busy intersections - Bay and Bloor and Yonge and Bloor.

Will this lead to happier pedestrians or confused Torontians bumping into each other? It's hard to say, but the scramble practice is pretty common in a bunch of other places. Innovate pedestrian ideas are always interesting, but if you ever had to walk around a car stuck in the middle of an intersection at a red light, you know we'll need a lot more ideas to keep us running smoothly and get some cars off the road. Still, I would love to see if this works.

Photo: Jerrold Litwinenko


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