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 Avenue, Hollywood
  • Aliso Street and Alameda Street, at Union Station, Downtown Los Angeles

Though scramble intersections are working just fine thank you in Pasadena, at USC, and at UCLA, the Times trotted out an unnamed L.A. transportation engineer who, in 1995, said they wouldn’t work here.

This got SBLA thinking: This is a great idea, but LADOT just isn’t going far enough! What other pedestrian-heavy intersections would be great for scramble treatments? Why not MacArthur Park? Wilshire and Vermont? in front of L.A. Trade Tech? And why not go further? Can we close some streets around our rail stations, maybe even around our schools, too – make them only for walking and bicycling? At certain hours? or all the time – like plazas or mini-CicLAvias?

Comment away, dear readers! Where would you put pedestrian scrambles? In L.A. or elsewhere? Where could we go further?


  • patrick

    5th & Flower. Every crossing is an adventure.

  • AlecMitchell

    Hollywood & Vine would make a lot of sense. Aliso and Alameda seems like a weird choice: heavy car traffic, minimal pedestrian activity, not that close to Union Station or anything else. The intersection closest to Union Station at Los Angeles St. and Alameda St. needs some love, though I’m not sure a scramble would make sense. Others around downtown:

    5th (or 6th or 7th) and Spring
    9th and Broadway
    College Street and Broadway in Chinatown
    2nd and Central Ave in Little Tokyo
    11th and Figueroa Street
    Olympic Blvd and Figueroa Street
    Olympic Blvd and Georgia Street

  • Lorenzo Mutia

    In the SFV on streets with major bus service that interface with the Orange Line, streets that run very close and parallel to the line shut beye shut down to auto traffic. I cite the situation on Reseda. The buses caught between signals have to stop once before stopping again to pick up or discharge passengers. That adds too much time and can make people miss connections.

  • Dylan

    Exposition & National/Palms

  • June H

    They could do this at the Universal City stop (Lankershim and Universal) along with some traffic calming on Lankershim (narrower lanes, raised median) and save a lot of money on that ridiculous pedestrian bridge.

  • Jake Bloo

    This is a real interesting idea. If you could time the Orange Line rolling up to a stop with the end of a Barnes Dance crossing, you could have all of your passengers right there ready to board, then hit the green light and the BRT moves on.

    I wonder what the difficulties in synchronizing something like this?

  • HighNoon


  • Nowhere. The point of diagonal crossing is to have an exclusive phase IN ADDITION to the standard timing. But LA is so car-centric, theyre using it as a “get the peds out of the way so the cars have space” phase. At least at USC, pedestrian waits are enormous because you cant cross at any other point.

  • m

    Agreed! Cahuenga is pretty bad as well… anything to slow down the cars along those entire streets (not just at the area right in front of the metro station) would be much appreciated. People that use the station need to be able to safely move up an down those streets to get to their final destinations.

    Plus! I think this has the benefit of not taking up an enormous amount of street level space that could be used in more effective ways as well as implemented way faster than the 2 years projected for the new bridge to nowhere to be built.

  • Joe Linton

    I’d like to see it the plans when Metro looks to open new rail portals. Maybe not everywhere, but in halfway pedestrian oriented areas. What if, whenever we see a scramble crosswalk, we expect to see a Metro station nearby?

  • Alex Brideau III

    Second this. Especially because a very high proportion of people are crossing from the SW corner to the Metro entrance on the NE corner.

  • Alex Brideau III

    Yes! If we’re going to encourage transit-oriented development, pedestrians should have top priority near transit stations. At a bare minimum, intersections adjacent to Metro stations should never (ever) have beg buttons. A good first start would be to get Metro to work with LADOT to remove beg buttons near Metro stations (perhaps starting with LATTC/Ortho Institute Station … I think that’s the current name).

  • Alex Brideau III

    My proposed solution to this would be to have all-walk (Barnes dance) phase between *every* traffic phase, not just once per complete cycle. So, for example….
    1) EB/WB traffic phase
    2) all-walk phase
    3) NB/SB traffic phase
    4) all-walk phase
    5) repeat

  • Alex Brideau III

    Agreed. Alameda & Aliso, while it does see high car counts, doesn’t really seem to have the pedestrian counts to warrant an all-walk, at least not compared to 7th & Figueroa. The latter should be a higher priority and the former should be part of a Phase 2 rollout, IMHO.

  • AlecMitchell

    I think pedestrian lead intervals at cross walks are a often better solution, and should be implemented anywhere with moderately high pedestrian traffic. Diagonals can be useful in really heavy pedestrian areas (perhaps just at certain times) where pedestrians tend to bunch up at the corners.

    There aren’t too many of those in L.A. though, primarily Hollywood, Chinatown, a few of the busier Metro Rail portals, and during specific hours in active nightlife districts (Downtown, Koreatown, Westwood). In such areas there should probably be a walk signal between every traffic phase.

  • WhenDookieCalls

    But where then will the LAPD do their daily jaywalk sting op? :)

  • Tricia Robbins Kasson

    There’s a Barnes Dance crosswalk at Owensmouth and Erwin Streets adjacent to the Orange Line Warner Center Transit Hub – it’s been there for several years. There should also add one to the other side of the hub at Owensmouth and Oxnard.

  • AndrewReker

    After having been living in the Boston area for a year. I prefer the lead pedestrian interval at intersections over the scramble. It ends up being better from a delay perspective in most cases most of the time I’m only crossing one leg of an intersection.

    I could see the case being made for an all-walk phase at transit headhouses and exits though, it’s very tough for the people making right and left-turns not to create some sort of safety hazard with a lead interval when there’s regularly dozens of pedestrians on every cycle.

  • Alex Brideau III

    I’ve seen them work other nearby intersections, but never 7th & Fig.

  • FuzzBeast

    How about Santa Monica and Vermont? High pedestrian traffic, Metro stop, LACC adjacent. Or MacArthur Park, one of the most ped trafficked intersections in the city, full of people who are trying to get to all sides of the intersection, also a Metro stop.

    Or how about everywhere? They managed to add the timers across most of the city in a few years. Having to use two crosswalks, and wait multiple light cycles sometimes, to cross diagonally sucks. Cars don’t need to wait for two separate lights to make a left turn, why should pedestrians. These sorts of intersections are common in places like Tokyo, which is a very spread out, yet fairly pedestrian city.

    I have lived in this city car free for about a decade (haven’t even had a driver’s license since 2010). It’s totally do-able, and not even hard, sure it might take some creativity and the occasional lift from a friend to help move something outsized; but it’s fine, and saves a bunch of cash too.

    People say LA isn’t pedestrian friendly, or bicycle friendly, but car centric- so “this is a dumb proposal” or whatever the trolls will come up with; but, there’s only one way to fix that, and that is to MAKE it friendly for those of us who don’t drive, and that takes that oh so scary thing called change.


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