Last week in his interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, new commissioner of the Department of Transportation (CDOT), Gabe Klein, indicated he wanted to explore installing a pedestrian scramble at some intersections in the city. This would mean that vehicle traffic is stopped in all directions (an “all red” phase) and people walking can cross in any direction from any corner to any other corner.
“It’s something we would be interested in piloting at the busiest intersections,” Klein said.
People at Milwaukee-North-Damen are already demonstrating, in partial fashion, how the pedestrian scramble works. At peak times you may see 25 people cross outside a marked crosswalk between the Starbucks at the southwest side to the former bank building on the north side between Milwaukee and Damen (see above photo).
Gabe Klein’s not the first to bring it up this year. The students of “Living in a Smart City” at the School of the Art Institute (SAIC) proposed such an upgrade in March for the Milwaukee-North-Damen intersection,the heart of Wicker Park – and quite busy. You can watch a video of their demonstration model at 2:18.
A pedestrian scramble should be tested at this intersection soon. Wicker Park visitors are already treating this intersection as if it had one; their situation can be improved by matching the infrastructure to the activity. What will be interesting to observe is how people bicycling will treat the signal phase. They will be expected to stop (all vehicle traffic) but it may be a ripe opportunity for many bicyclists to make their turns during this phase. This situation is especially relevant because of the insane amount of bicycle traffic here.
What other locations in Chicago do you think should have pedestrian scrambles?
Tokyo is famous for pedestrian scrambles (also knows as the “Barnes dance”).