Let’s get scramblin’
As a frequent pedestrian in downtown Vancouver, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost been run over by some impatient driver trying to turn right, not noticing that the crosswalk sign was on and that I have the right of way.
I used to live in a condo on the corner of Abbott and Expo Blvd., where drivers would come whipping around that corner so fast, that I was terrified to cross, even though the WALK sign was on. I was heartbroken when I heard that a mother and child were killed by a truck driver turning right at that same intersection after I moved.
All of this makes me relieved to hear the City of Vancouver’s latest announcement that it plans to test a pedestrian “scramble” crossing on Robson Street, creating an inter-section where car traffic is stopped in all directions to allow pedestrians to cross in any way, including diagonally.
Shibuya intersection in Tokyo.
The test crossing will be evaluated as a possible remedy for pedestrian-vehicle collisions at busy intersections, according to the city’s newly released Transportation 2040 plan.
According to transportation director Jerry Dobrovolny, the possibility for collisions is reduced because pedestrian and vehicle traffic transverse the scramble intersection at different times.
Pedestrian scrambles go all the way back to 1940s and were first used in Canada and the United States. Although they had since fallen out of favour, scrambles are making a comeback. The benefits in terms of pedestrian safety have led to new examples being installed in many countries in recent years like Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Photo credit: blindphotography on Flickr
The city is thinking of putting pedestrian scrambles at other downtown intersections. If this is the case, I would strongly suggest one at the intersection of Burrard and Georgia Street, near the Burrard Skytrain station. The amount of eager beaver drivers running red lights and trying to turn right and mow down pedestrians is downright dangerous.