Scramble Crosswalks Ready for Their Star Turn in Hollywood

Chicago's first pedestrian scramble, or "Barnes Dance", at the downtown intersection of Jackson Blvd. and State St. Pedestrians are allowed to cross all directions, including diagonally, every three light cycles. All vehicular turns have been prohibited to improve traffic flow. Photo: Chicago's first pedestrian scramble, or "Barnes Dance", at the downtown intersection of Jackson Blvd. and State St. Pedestrians are allowed to cross all directions, including diagonally, every three light cycles. All vehicular turns have been prohibited to improve traffic flow. KEVIN ZOLKIEWICZ/FLICKR via ##http://www.scpr.org/programs/airtalk/2014/11/03/40143/los-angeles-ponders-diagonal-crosswalks-what-are-t/##Airtalk/KPCC##
Chicago’s first pedestrian scramble, or “Barnes Dance”, at the downtown intersection of Jackson Blvd. and State St. Pedestrians are allowed to cross all directions, including diagonally, every three light cycles. All vehicular turns have been prohibited to improve traffic flow. Photo: KEVIN ZOLKIEWICZ/FLICKR via ##http://www.scpr.org/programs/airtalk/2014/11/03/40143/los-angeles-ponders-diagonal-crosswalks-what-are-t/##Airtalk/KPCC##

Responding to community concerns that the high volume of pedestrian traffic at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue was creating an unsafe crossing, City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell and the Department of Transportation recently announced that a “pedestrian scramble” will be installed by the end of the year.

The pedestrian scramble, aka The Barnes Dance, is basically an intersection which has a “pedestrian only” phase in its signal timing. During this time, pedestrians are not just limited to crossing east-west or north-south, but can actually cross to the opposite corner by cutting straight through the middle of the street.

Los Angeles already has a few pedestrian scramble intersections near the college campuses of USC and UCLA. In addition, Pasadena and Beverly Hills have installed scrambles at high-volume intersections. If you’re not familiar with the scrambles, check out the below video by Streetfilms celebrating Los Angeles’ scrambles that was filmed in 2008.

“Hollywood and Highland is our red carpet entrance for people from around the world who come to experience Los Angeles’ center stage,” said Seleta Reynolds, LADOT General Manager. “The new intersection design will prioritize the safety and comfort of people walking. We plan to implement this change in consultation with the community and will evaluate the before and after effects.”

In addition to residents, workers, and tourists who may arrive by car or are staying in one of the local hotels, Hollywood and Highland is also home to a busy Red Line Metro rail station and a handful of local bus routes. 

“Safe neighborhoods are my top priority,” writes O’Farrell, who has come under criticism for his support for the high-traffic-capacity redesign of the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge. “A scramble crosswalk at Hollywood and Highland has been one of the top requests from residents and stakeholders who want to improve the overall experience in Hollywood.”

The cost of installing the scramble crosswalk is relatively cheap, estimates range from $50,000 to $100,000. (Update, 3:30 p.m. : Everyone now agrees the cost for this intersection is $50,000. The cost for other’s could go as high as $100,000) O’Farrell used this announcement to also announce an $11 million pedestrian safety campaign to improve crossings and sidewalks throughout his city council district. The other targets include:

  • Bus stop improvements on Highland Avenue (Franklin and Sunset) and Vine Street (Sunset and Fountain), that could include new shelters and signage

  • Hollywood Blvd. (Gower St and Western Ave) Streetscape project

  • Safe Routes to School project on Selma Ave for Hollywood High School and Selma Elementary

  • New traffic signals approved for: Sunset/Las Palmas, Vine/Waring, Hollywood/McCadden, and Highland/Hawthorn

Hopefully, the Hollywood Scramble will inspire more councilmembers to consider these crossings in their districts, but in the meantime, it’s exciting to see the scramble program flicker back to life.

If the crosswalk is down by the end of the year, does anyone want to take a guess on how long it is before we see superheroes creating their own “30 seconds of awesome?

  • Steven White

    I really hope we get the thick white lines of the continental-type crosswalks even on the diagonals through the intersection. Even when drivers have the light, I imagine this treatment would cause them to slow down and pay a bit more attention that otherwise.

  • chairs_missing

    They should put up “no-right on red” signs too, while they’re at it. Seems like it’ll be too messy if you have overly aggressive LA motorists blocking the crosswalk as they try to edge through throngs of tourists.

  • Grant Beaudette

    Hollywood and Highland is a scramble as it is. Might as well make it official.

  • Jeff Jacobberger

    The devil is in the details. Is this really a pro-pedestrian project, or an effort to clear the intersection of pedestrians to allow cars to drive through the intersection at the posted speed of 35 mph (which no one can do now), and to make it easier for cars to make right turns, all while making pedestrians wait 3-4 minutes between pedestrian signals? How long will the pedestrian crossing time be? Given the number of tourists in the vicinity, is the City going to aggressively ticket pedestrians who cross on the flashing red hand? How much will delay increase/decrease for motorists, and for pedestrians?
    What impact on bicyclists trying to get to/from Hollywood/Highland?

  • Alex Brideau III

    I hope they set up the all-walk phase to occur *more than once* per cycle.

    …but I’m not holding my breath.

  • M

    This will be interesting… Scrambles are nice in some ways, but having used the Colorado one in Pasadena, many times car drivers still will go through the pedestrian only signal (right on reds/lefts) because these types of intersections are so uncommon. Add in tons of tourists that aren’t familiar with the area, and I really have no idea what will happen…..

  • The one by USC is garbage because peds are banned from crossing at all other times. Exclusive ped time should be in addition to other phases.

  • Anyone know why it costs 50,000 to implement this? Is there more to it than some paint on the road and reprogramming the lights for simultaneous reds in all directions?

  • James Fujita

    They’re going to put a statue of Richard Gere’s dog between the station entrance and the scramble.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

LADOT Pilots “Pedestrian First” Timing on Broadway

|
It seems like a simple concept. If you give pedestrians a walk signal before giving cars the go-ahead, pedestrians crossing at intersections will be more visible and crashes and injuries will be reduced. But in a city where too much of the infrastructure is still designed to encourage cars to move quickly, even a small […]

LA Gets Diagonal Crosswalks (again)

|
Last Spring when Steetfilms came to town, we talked with Urban Planner Deborah Murphy about some of the challenges pedestrians and pedestrian advocates face in Los Angeles.  Today, we wanted to highlight one of the innovative things that LADOT is doing to make pedestrians lives safer and easier in Los Angeles. Clarence Eckerson explains: In […]

Where Should ‘Barnes Dance’ Diagonal Scramble Crosswalks Go?

|
LA Gets Diagonal Crosswalks (again) from STREETFILMS on Vimeo. Last week, the L.A. Times ran this article announcing that the city of Los Angeles Transportation Department (LADOT) is planning to add new diagonal “scramble” or “Barnes Dance” crosswalks at three pedestrian-heavy Metro-rail adjacent intersections: 7th Street and Flower Street, Downtown Los Angeles Hollywood Boulevard and Highland […]

What to Do About Fifth and Flower?

|
Today in City Watch, Stephen Box talk about the need to improve pedestrian safety for everyone, cyclists, pedestrians and drivers.  On Tuesday, Box and I did a tour of the intersection of 5th and Flower, the intersection where Gwendolyn Coleman had been struck and killed by a DASH bus while legally crossing the street a week […]