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Scramble Crosswalks Ready for Their Star Turn in Hollywood

11:23 AM PDT on August 18, 2015

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?"

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