‘Scrambled’ Pedestrian Crossings at Signal Controlled Junctions - a Case Study

Topics: Pedestrian crossing, Pedestrian scramble, Oxford Circus Pages: 21 (5834 words) Published: May 3, 2013
‘Scrambled’ pedestrian crossings at signal controlled junctions - A case study


Chris Greenwood
Principal Consultant Highways & Transportation

‘Scramble crossings’ for pedestrians at signal junctions are widely used in Japan and have been reintroduced in Canada and the United States as a way of prioritising pedestrian movement by stopping all traffic movement and allowing pedestrians to cross in every direction at the same time. Some examples exist in the UK but their use is not widespread. One potential reason for this is there is limited guidance on when ‘scramble crossings’ should be considered as potential schemes for promoting pedestrian priority. This paper focuses on the proposed scramble or diagonal crossing scheme at Oxford Circus in central London. This has been designed by Atkins on behalf of The Crown Estate, Transport for London (TfL), Westminster City Council (WCC) and the New West End Company (NWEC) and was implemented during 2009. The purpose of the paper is to identify some of the existing examples in the UK and overseas and review the existing guidance on their application of scrambled crossings. The paper then describes the design process and key features of the Oxford Circus scheme and based on this experience concludes by suggesting potential future applications of scramble crossings in the UK.

Introduction to scramble crossings
For the purpose of this paper the term ‘diagonal crossing’ will be used as well as ‘scramble crossing’ to describe signalised crossings which have an ‘all red’ stage and where pedestrians are encouraged to cross in all directions. Scramble crossings for pedestrians involve stopping all traffic movements at signalised junctions and allowing pedestrians to cross in every direction at the same time. Their origins are unclear but they are also known as a ‘Barnes Dance’ after Henry Barnes, a traffic engineer in the United States, who popularised the concept after overseeing their introduction in Denver and New York. The general consensus is that the first scramble crossings were introduced in Vancouver and Kansas City in the 1940’s and spread to other cities in North America including Los Angeles in the 1950’s which at one point had 25 examples. Over 300 scramble crossings now exist in Japan including the ‘Shibuya crossing’ situated close to Tokyo’s Shibuya railway station which is said to be used by over 250,000 pedestrians every day. This is probably the most widely known example of a scramble crossing in the world. The author considers that the popularisation of the motor car in the post-war period resulted in the withdrawal of some of the scramble crossings particularly in North America. However, the acknowledgement of the need to promote more sustainable modes of travel together with increased urbanisation has lead to scramble crossings being considered once again as a way of dealing with the conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles in the centre of our cities. New scramble crossings have recently been introduced in Oakland (2002 at 8th Street / Webster Street) and Calgary (2003 in Quartier International district) and Toronto (2008 at Yonge Street / Dundas Square). Through review of these papers and the author’s experience of developing the proposed scheme for Oxford Circus the key advantages of introducing scramble crossings include the following: • Promotion of pedestrian priority and the relief of pedestrian congestion on more traditional orthogonal crossings and footways particularly where pedestrian volumes are very high. Reduction of walk distances and times particularly where pedestrians would otherwise use two orthogonal crossings to reach their intended destination and can now complete their journey through the junction by making a single diagonal crossing movement. Potential improvements in safety by reducing conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles. Bechtel et al 2003 demonstrated in their analysis of the Oakland scramble crossing that...

References: 1. Ahuja. S, S Bose, T van Vuren and D Ragland, Towards the Provision of Ultimate Pedestrian Priority: Guidelines for Installation of Scramble (all red phase) Pedestrian Signals at Intersections Paper submitted for presentation at the European Transport Conference, the Netherlands 2008 Ishaque, M.M and R.Bm Noland, Micro-simulation Comparisons of Alternative Signalized Pedestrian Crossings, Paper submitted for presentation at the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, Washington D.C 2006 Bechtel, A.K, K.E. MacLeod and D.R. Ragland, Oakwood Chinatown Pedestrian Scramble: An Evaluation, UC Berkeley Traffic Safety Centre, December 2003 TD 50/04, The Geometric Layout of Signal-Controlled Junctions and Signalised Roundabouts, Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB), Vol. 6, Section 2.The Stationery Office (TSO). November 2004 Traffic Advisory Leaflet (TAL) 5/05, Pedestrian Facilities at Signal Controlled Crossings, Department for Transport (DfT) (March 2005) Fruin, J.J, Pedestrian Planning and Design. Alabama: Elevator World Inc, 1987 TA 16/81, General Principles of Control by Traffic Signals, Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB), Vol. 8, Section 1. The Stationery Office (TSO) September 1981 TTS6, Design Standards for Signal Schemes in London, Transport for London, August 2002
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