Eyes On the Street: Scramble Crosswalks Debut At Hollywood And Highland

A big X marks the spot: pedestrians scramble yesterday at the newly revamped intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

It may be one of those made-up statistics, but there is a repeated truism that millions of people visit Hollywood Boulevard every year, and they spend an average of about fifteen minutes there. Sure, there are the Walk of Fame, some beautiful historic theaters and other noble buildings, Metro Red Line subway stops, costumed performers, street musicians… but Hollywood Boulevard is mostly tacky souvenir shops, museums in name only, and sad restaurants one would never return to, all along a massive car-choked stroad.

Despite millions of tourists milling around on foot, there is no place to sit, or to hang out. There are hardly even places to shoot respectable selfies.

All that has not changed overnight, but the city implemented a pedestrian upgrade yesterday at Hollywood’s most prominent intersection: Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue. City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, Department of Transportation (LADOT) General Manager Seleta Reynolds, a marching band, and tens of thousands of pedestrians (most of whom just happened to be passing through) opened the city’s latest pedestrian scramble crosswalks.

Similar to intersections in downtown Pasadena, fronting USC and UCLA, and elsewhere, Hollywood pedestrians can now cross diagonally during a phase when all cars are stopped. The upgrade is part of the city’s inter-departmental Vision Zero improvements program, in which L.A. has committed to ending all traffic fatalities over the next ten years.

Hollywood and Highland
Lights. Camera. Scramble.

Tourists come from all over the world to walk along Hollywood Boulevard.
There it is. Walk it.
There it is. Walk it.
Streetsblog exclusive: what the L.A. pedestrian scramble signage looks like.
Streetsblog exclusive: what the L.A. pedestrian scramble signage looks like.

Additional new LADOT scrambles are planned for two downtown Los Angeles intersections: 7th Street at Flower, and Aliso and Alameda streets in front of Union Station.

See additional Hollywood/Highland scramble coverage at CBS, Facebook, and Twitter.

  • LAifer

    Great to see this! The only way these really work for all users (including people driving) will be if people walking actually observe and respect the “Don’t Walk” signals when they are on. Otherwise it’ll just continue to be more mayhem at an intersection already choked up all hours of the day. Hopefully the more people get accustomed to the idea of walking diagonally, the more patient they’ll be waiting for that crosswalk light.

  • Cory

    I know they have one in Venice near Windward and it seemed to work great the few times I’ve used it. Oddly, Toronto voted to ditch one earlier this year. http://www.torontosun.com/2015/04/02/council-votes-to-ditch-bay-bloor-scramble

  • Ron Richings

    Very innovative and au courrant – sort of. The same scramble approach that was used in Victoria, BC in the 1960s ! Well, only half a century later…

  • Alex Brideau III

    And in partially related news, I’ve seen a host of new beg buttons installed at the intersections immediately fronting the new Whole Foods Market in DTLA.

    One bright spot: As of this morning, no signage was added above the buttons; leaving open the (small?) possibility that the final signage may note that the buttons are only for pedestrians wishing for an audio prompt.

  • Is this an upgrade or downgrade for pedestrians?

    Is this an ADDITIONAL phase for peds, in that they can cross concurrently with vehicles, or did peds just lose a bunch of crossing time so the cars can turn freely?

    If peds can ONLY cross during the exclusive phase, then theyve gone from being able to cross 49% of the time (example) to 20% of the time. 2% of police enforce the “no entering on countdown” idiocy

  • Mike

    This is an upgrade, there has been no reduction on “crossing time” only a rearrangement of authorized crossing time.

    Originally: (example)
    Cars: 25 seconds
    Peds: 25 seconds
    >> peds cross in one direction, then wait to cross again
    Cars: 25 seconds
    Peds: 25 seconds
    >> peds moving bi laterally make the second crossing

    Cars: 25 seconds (NS)
    Cars: 25 seconds (EW)
    peds: 50 seconds (NSE&W)

    This scenario actually makes it easier for both cars and pedestrians because pedestrians don’t have to wait for 3 cycles of traffic and cars don’t have to worry about meandering peds in the cross walks that share the same direction as traffic.

  • Is that timing accurate? Pedestrians get 50 seconds?

    The problem is that pedestrians are only waiting multiple cycles if they wanted to go diagonally. If they were going straight, it is a downgrade.

  • Mike

    The times are not accurate… see where it says “example”

    Unilateral movement will be marginally slower for pedestrians, but exponentially safer because pedestrians and drivers will no longer occupy the same travel space which is particularly dangerous when cars are turning and bisecting crosswalks.

    As typical with CA and especially Hollywood, you can rest assured that millions of dollars were “invested” in traffic studies which concluded that bilateral crossing was more of a priority than unilateral. Stop treating this like it’s some sort of gimmick. Many of the worlds busiest intersections (both for peds and cars) include the scramble configuration.

  • Salts

    Whether this is a win or a lose for pedestrians in terms of convenience is debatable however, this is most certainly a win for bikes – go when cars have green AND go when peds have green! This works well in Westwood for bikes and now it will also for bikes in Hollywood!

  • chairs missing

    Works pretty well on Colorado in Pasadena.

  • tim1724

    Pasadena has had scramble crossings for many years on Colorado Blvd. It works great when there’s a lot of pedestrians.

  • tim1724

    The Wikipedia article on the topic lists other places where they’re used (Japan uses them extensively) as well as some of the pros and cons. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedestrian_scramble

  • Kenny Easwaran

    The ones at USC also generally work effectively.

  • Wanderer

    LA is catching up on this one, but it sure seems like a good place to do it. San Francisco has scrambles in the Financial District, Oakland has a couple in Chinatown, serving very different users. Once you’ve seen them once, they’re very intuitive. Hopefully this won’t slow buses on Hollywoood Boulevard too much.

  • BFD

    LA did this in the 50s, it made lights 3 way and autos did not like it. These days lights are green for N/S traffic, E/W traffic, N/S left turn, E/W left turn, and now every car stops for pedestrians. What a mess!

  • Tom

    This is backing up Franklin and Highland to the North significantly. Can’t wait until the Hollywood bowl kicks into gear and cars are rear ending each other on the 101 fwy which I predict will be backed up to Universal. The traffic volume here seems too high for the additional light cycle.

  • Slexie

    It doesn’t help that that exit on the SB 101 at Barham doesn’t exist anymore. So all that traffic gets off at the Highland exit and has to double back over the Pilgrim Bridge. That area is the worst in the AM rush hour. I feel there should be a banner over that exit that says:

    Abandon All Hope All Hope Ye Who Enter…


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