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Pedestrian Safety

City’s Newest Scramble Crosswalk Opens in Venice

12:03 PM PDT on August 29, 2018

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This article supported by Los Angeles Bicycle Attorney as part of a general sponsorship package. All opinions in the article are that of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of LABA. Click on the ad for more information.

Earlier this morning, the city's newest "Scramble Crosswalk" opened at Washington Boulevard and Pacific Avenue in Venice. City Councilmember Mike Bonin, LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds, and residents of Venice inaugurated the upgrade with a stroll through the intersection. Before the opening, Bonin spent over half an hour fielding concerns from residents opposed to a bridge housing project which would site temporary housing for those experiencing homelessness in their community.

"Starting this week, pedestrians can now cross the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Pacific Avenue (near the Washington Square area of Venice) in any direction - including diagonally," writes Bonin. "'Scramble crosswalks' help improve safety at intersections and this safety upgrade came at the request of nearby neighbors and business owners."

The intersection of Washington/Pacific is an obvious choice for a scramble crosswalk, where pedestrians are given their own crossing time to cross the street however they choose. Located just blocks from the Venice Beach, and with the last light before one that serves the beach parking lot, the mix of people on foot and people in vehicles is more concentrated than other parts of the city.

Both Washington and Pacific are commuter streets who command especially high amounts of car traffic at rush hour, but still attract trips of all kinds throughout the day because of the shops, restaurants, and the beach. However, foot traffic crossing both streets can spillover into the time for vehicle crossings and vice-versa, so this scramble should result in both increased car mobility and safer and more attractive crossings for people on foot, scooter, skateboard, wheelchair and people in their automobiles.

Just a casual stroll across the street in the life of Mike Bonin and Seleta Reynolds
Just a casual stroll across the street in the life of Mike Bonin and Seleta Reynolds. All images by Damien Newton.
Just a casual stroll across the street in the life of Mike Bonin and Seleta Reynolds

Funding for the project came from a federal program designed to improve surface streets in high-traffic areas. The project has been "on the books" for a half-dozen years, but funding just became available earlier this year.

While scramble crosswalks are still rare in Los Angeles, the city was actually an early adopter of this type of intersection design. This decade-old Streetfilm shows two scrambles working in Los Angeles, and delves into the city's history with a pilot program in 1958.

After the event wrapped-up, two LADOT Traffic officers arrived to help road users navigate the intersection. "What's happening?" a woman asked me as she exited a local diner. "They just opened these new crosswalks, you have to wait a little longer for the signal, but you can cross whatever direction you want," I answered.

"Cool," she replied. "About time."

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