At the intersection of Morse Ave and Cottage Way in the Arden-Arcade community of Sacramento county, there is a pedestrian scramble. What this men’s is that the pedestrian signal is on, for walk, in all the directions at once. They are also called Barnes Dance, for Henry Barnes, the traffic engineer who popularized them, and exclusive pedestrian phases.

Sometimes these intersections have marked diagonal crosswalks, as a reminder that diagonal crossings are permitted, and sometimes they do not, but a pedestrian may cross diagonally whether the marked crosswalk is there or not.

I am most familiar with these from Reno (I lived in Carson City for some years), which has several along Virginia Street in downtown. I’ve seen them other places, but don’t recall exactly where right now. At every location where I’ve seen them, right turns are prohibited on red, by signing, so when pedestrians are crossing, no cars are moving at all, and there is no issue with drivers failing to yield to pedestrians using the crosswalk.

I think that every intersection that has heavy pedestrian traffic, particularly where many of the pedestrians are crossing one street and then the other, should have pedestrian scrambles. Yes, they slow traffic a bit, but they increase pedestrian safety and comfort, a great trade-off in my opinion. Many scrambled that existed in the past were removed by traffic engineers who wanted to prioritize vehicle flow over all other considerations, including safety, but it is time to bring them back, at least in select locations. See Governing Magazine, Cities Revive an Old Idea to Become More Pedestrian-Friendly, or search the Internet for pedestrian scramble for both recent and old installations.

The county had this to say about the intersection:

  1. The all-ways crossing, also known as a pedestrian scramble, at Cottage and Morse was in place/operation prior to the 2016 Cottage Way modification project. After doing some researched, we discovered it has been in place since the signal was installed in 1969.
  2. The pedestrian scramble operates 24 hours a day.
  3. The configuration of this intersection is unusual for the County. The scramble works for this location given the layout and right of way constraints that result in some of the corners only having one pedestrian push button to serve two directions.
  4. We currently do not have any plans to add diagonal crossings at this location.
  5. This is currently the only location in the County that has a pedestrian scramble.

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  1. […] the post yesterday, Morse-Cottage pedestrian scramble, here is my first suggestion for a pedestrian scramble in Sacramento. J Street and 13th Street […]

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About Dan Allison

Dan Allison is a Safe Routes to School Coordinator in the Sacramento area. Dan dances and backpacks, as much as possible.

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