Admit it: you harbor a secret desire to cross a busy intersection on foot diagonally from one corner to another; instead of crossing one street, waiting for the signal to change, and then crossing the other street. (Perhaps you have even made a mad diagonal dash across an intersection and experienced the unbridled joy and rush of adrenaline that accompanies it.)
Then here’s some wonderful news for you: as of now, there is one intersection in Chicago where you can carry out a diagonal crossing legally.
The magic spot is where State Street and Jackson Boulevard meet in downtown. (There are even marked crosswalks that stretch diagonally between corners!) Transportation authorities have implemented what they are calling a “pedestrian scramble” pattern at that intersection. The goal is to increase the amount of space between pedestrians and vehicles in an effort to reduce the number of auto-pedestrian accidents in the city.
The pedestrian scramble has been prevalent in parts of Europe for some time now. Here’s how it works: every third traffic light cycle, all vehicle traffic will be stopped at the intersection for 35 seconds – meaning that the lights will be red in all three directions at the same time (Jackson is a one-way street eastbound). This would allow pedestrians to get a “head start” crossing the street in all six directions. Hopefully, this will reduce the conflicts caused by late-crossing pedestrians and/or vehicles trying to turn right on red.
The move is part of a wider initiative by the Chicago Department of Transportation to reduce accident-related pedestrian injuries in the city by 50%. Other parts of the plan include cutting down on the number of intersections where vehicles are allowed to turn right on red, as well as boosting the amount of pedestrian traffic signals that allow foot traffic to enter an intersection before the vehicle signal turns green.
The pedestrian scramble experiment will run for several months, and then officials will evaluate the results and determine whether to expand the idea elsewhere throughout Chicago. So if you’ve ever wanted to make the “diagonal crossing” on foot, now’s your chance!