As the Chicago Department of Transportation continues to prioritize pedestrian safety and mobility, it’s opened Chicago’s first scramble crossing.
The intersection of South State Street and Jackson Boulevard was re-striped early this morning not only with zebra stripes in the city’s usual four-square configuration, but also with diagonal crossings cutting across the intersection.
Once per cycle the traffic lights turn red in all four directions for vehicular traffic, giving pedestrians free reign to cross the intersection in whichever direction they want.
Such crossings have been common for decades in cities like Seattle (1st and Pike), Washington (7th and H), Toronto (Yonge and Dundas), Tokyo (Shibuya Crossing), London (Piccadilly Circus), and others.
More than 40,000 people cross State and Jackson each day. CDOT will monitor the intersection for six months and then decide if the idea should be expanded or scrapped.
From 2005 to 2009 more than 250 pedestrians have been killed on Chicago’s streets. On a yearly basis, the number is declining, and CDOT hopes to see it reduced further. The Jackson corridor in The Loop is a hotspot for people being hit by cars. And interestingly, citywide, the people most likely to be hit aren’t slow old folks with walkers. They’re men in their 20’s.
When we stopped by State and Jackson this morning, it was still too soon to see any scramble action. As part of the traffic reconfiguration, cars are no longer allowed to make turns at the intersection. Traffic aides were busy correcting those who didn’t notice the new no turning signs on their way to work, and electricians were busy reprogramming the traffic lights.