Toronto should modernize infrastructure and policies at major intersections in order to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety and improve traffic flow.
Pros: Most efficient way to accommodate pedestrians and drivers, proven effectiveness at major intersections in the City: Bloor/Bay and Yonge/Dundas, successfully implemented in other large cities.
Cons: Cost of installing new signals and painted walks, worries that new crossings will slow traffic flow and increase gridlock.
Scramble intersections, which allow pedestrians to cross in both direction and diagonally across intersections, have been implemented extensively in many of the world’s leading cities. The most efficient X crossings, give right of way to pedestrians and then right of way to drivers and are paired with the elimination of right on red turns and traditional - with traffic - pedestrian crossings. The X crossing depends on a three cycle traffic light system - which allows two signal for cars in both directions and one for pedestrians only.
Pedestrians, cyclist, and drivers all benefit from this type of crossing. Pedestrians do not have to worry about vehicles turning right into their walkways and can cross diagonally to save time. By travelling with traffic, cyclists do not have to worry about the right of way of pedestrians at intersections and are more thoroughly integrated into traffic flows. For drivers, the waiting times at lights are reduced as all lanes can move freely, particularly those turning right who must yield to pedestrians at conventional intersections.
Scramble crossings work best at intersections with both high pedestrian and vehicle traffic, particularly those located downtown. Due to the success of crossings Bay and Bloor and Yonge and Dundas, city planning and traffic experts should be able to roll out scrambling crossings at select intersections. Possible candidates include: Bloor and Spadina, Yonge and College, and Yonge and Eglington.
Image credit: Spacing, Flickr creative commons