Yesterday we continued the discussion of signals, and in a way, today continues on the theme with a signal for a different transportation mode: walking. Specifically, this post is an ode to the scramble.

Found increasingly in major metropolitan areas, scramble intersections solve the challenge of pedestrian conflicts (that is, where cars could be turning in the paths of pedestrians) by completely stopping vehicular traffic for pedestrian travel in all directions. This is done one of two ways: automatically including a pedestrian phase in a light’s cycle or triggering them on-demand via the use of “beg buttons.”

Statistically, these intersections have proven to reduce the rate of pedestrian injuries; anecdotally, they also encourage individuals to follow rules since jaywalking is often less safe and more time consuming than simply waiting to cross an intersection diagonally.

Where are these intersections found? Boston and New Haven’s urban areas are some of the heaviest users in the US, while other locations are experimenting with additional variants (such as in the Los Angeles area). Internationally, Japan utilizes these intersections almost exclusively for the aforementioned safety and traffic reasons.

Want to learn more, as well as why they’re sometimes known as a “Barnes Dance”? Check out this CityLab article from 2012.