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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Scramble Crossings for Cincinnati

Those who frequent Downtown know how crowded some intersections get with pedestrians throughout the day. There are 23 intersections that see more than 1,000 pedestrians during peak hours. Of those 23, five see more than 2,000 and one (4th & Walnut) sees over 3,000 pedestrians per hour.

That's a lot of people walking around and trying to navigate the roadways filled with delivery trucks, taxis, buses, bicyclists and the hurried drivers. In addition to it being frustrating, it can also be dangerous to attempt multiple crossings of the same congested intersection.

2008 Downtown Pedestrian Count Map

If pedestrians were able to cross diagonally across intersections with traffic stopped in all directions, it would improve both vehicular and pedestrian flow, but also improve safety across the board.

"Scramble crossings" essentially are intersections that do just that. In Cincinnati's case, intersections with high volumes of pedestrian traffic could implement these during their peak volume hours of the day. The "scramble crossings" or "diagonal crossings" could first be implemented at the five intersections that see volume in excess of 2,000 pedestrians per hour, and could be expanded as needed.

When intersections no longer have pedestrian volumes to warrant the "scramble crossings" they could revert back to normal crossing operations. The associated costs would be reprogramming of the lights, painting of the diagonal crossings and possibly some minimal signage/education. Be sure to share any other intersections you feel are qualified for such programming in the comment section.

Watch this brief 3 minute video about how Los Angeles is implementing these crossings today, and how they are functioning for both pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

Pedestrian count data from 2008 Pedestrian Count Summary (1mb PDF)


DP said...

My wife and I refer to this as an "All Skate" from our elementary school skating party days.

Admittedly, I don't work downtown so I don't experience the weekday peak pedestrian times, but my general sense is that, because Cincinnati drivers aren't constantly in pedestrian-heavy areas, they aren't as attuned to the presence of pedestrians, which may make something like scramble crossings even more appropriate. Is that others' sense as well?

Travis Estell said...

Question about scramble crossings: In addition to the dedicated pedestrian phases, can pedestrians cross as they currently do, when the light in their direction is green?

Quimbob said...

This plan makes a lot of sense in, like, the CBD.
Is it ever used in other than 4 way intersections, like Knowlton's Corner 6 way intersection ?

Randy Simes said...


I think an intersection like Knowlton's Corner would be a great spot for this as well. I'm not sure if the pedestrian volumes are there to make it worthwhile though.

From my research volume seems to trump difficulty crossing. But I would think that there would/should be some exceptions made for instances like this. If programmed correctly it could work very well I think.

Radarman said...

Anything that moves pedestrians up in the pecking order is worth doing.

Chicago has started strict enforcement of crosswalk rules. Why can't we do that?

In New England, cars are required to stop for anyone in one of their well marked crosswalks.
Why can't we do that?

John Bronson said...

Interesting. When Huntington, W.Va. reconstructed their streetscape in the early 1970s, they reconfigured their traffic signals in downtown and around Marshall University to include one phase dedicated solely to pedestrians. A large bell would ring, indicating that it was safe to cross -- and for blind accessibility as well. The crosswalk was basically a 'scramble' - diagonal, cross-street, etc.

A good idea worth looking into.

Anonymous said...

Great idea! Many people now cross against the light because is seems to be safer (perhaps it really is).

I cross 4th at Sycamore. It's not on your map, but it's a particularly dangerous crossing these days because the east crosswalk - the one that cars don't turn in to - has been closed (there's no southeast corner due to the high rise construction).

If anyone is wondering who the Barnes behind "Barnes Dances" is.. he was NYC Traffic Commissioner back in the 60s (I used to be a pedestrian there/then).

Anonymous said...

Umm... Im downtown damn near everyday. Where is this high volume of pedestrian traffic? The only time I ever see a lot of pedestrian traffic is Oktoberfest and webn fireworks.

Randy Simes said...

^Feel free to take a look at the report where I pulled the data.

Anonymous said...

It says the peak pedestrian times are:

12-1pm LUNCH TIME for people employed downtown.

6-7pm GOING HOME time for aforementioned employees.

Once those people leave there isn't really any "high volume of pedestrian traffic."

Randy Simes said...

Yes, those are the peak hours for pedestrian traffic. This is why I suggested the signals be programmed to correspond with pedestrian count data. Intersections that see over lets say 2,000 pedestrians per hour would then have their intersections programmed for "scramble crossings" during those hours. When there isn't that volume, then normal operations would resume.

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