Pedestrian Criss-Crossings Piloted in Calgary

Posted by: Kenny Chan onMay 14th, 2008

Pedestrian Criss-Crossings being tested in Calgary

New pedestrian crossings are being tested at two downtown Calgary intersections. These crossings are unique in that there are two diagonal crosswalks. The way it works (in principle) is quite simple, when all four traffic lights are showing red, the WALK signal will light up and pedestrians may cross in any direction. During this time, traffic on all four sides are to remain stopped as right turns are not permitted on red.

After the pedestrians go, vehicle traffic in one direction will get a green light, while all four pedestrian signals will show the DO NOT WALK signal. Finally, in the third cycle traffic in the other direction will be given a green light with the pedestrian signals still showing DO NOT WALK.

Observing for only a few minutes at the intersection, I saw that this will be a huge learning curve for both drivers and pedestrians in Calgary. Both pedestrians and vehicle traffic were confused. I observed vehicles turning on the red while pedestrians were crossing on many occasions. Pedestrians were also confused and began crossing their street when the light went green getting in the way of traffic trying to make turns.

Pedestrian Criss-Crossings being tested in Calgary

In the above picture, you’ll notice that all vehicle traffic is stopped while the pedestrian crossings are all set to WALK. Interestingly enough, I didn’t notice anyone taking advantage of the diagonal cross walk. While the City of Calgary thinks otherwise, I think another great intersection to test this on would be 4th Avenue and Center Street.

The pedestrian criss-cross separates vehicles and pedestrians, thus reducing the likelihood of collisions. By stopping vehicles and allowing a pedestrian-only phase of the traffic lights, The City is encouraging walking by making a safer environment.

The City of Calgary Transportation will monitor these intersections to ensure effectiveness. If the pilot is successful, Pedestrian criss-crosses may be implemented in other high pedestrian, low-vehicle volume areas.

There are lots of pedestrians coming out of the James Short Parkade making their way to Chinatown. With the diagonal crosswalk, they would save much more time and would not be holding traffic up for as long as they currently do.

What are your thoughts on these new criss-cross pedestrian crossings?

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  1. Hakkola says:

    “There are lots of pedestrians coming out of the James Short Parkade making their way to Chinatown. With the diagonal crosswalk, they would save much more time and would not be holding traffic up for as long as they currently do.”

    I’m not familiar with the intersection, do the lights change for the sole purpose of allowing pedestrains to cross? I don’t see how this diagonal crossing can minimize traffic delays, when pedestrians cross they cross the intersection in the same direction as traffic, doesn’t this slow all directions of traffic? Moving diagonal across the streets also means that the red lights have to be longer, as the pedestrains will take longer to cross.

    It doesn’t make sense to me.

  2. Ferio_vti says:

    The lights operate for either vehicles or pedestrians traffic at one time. So when cars are going thru no pedestrian are allowed to cross and vice versa.
    Just so you get the idea with the diagonal crossing, same concept in Japan:

  3. Aleks says:

    The intersection in the picture is right outside my work. The way it works is this: Red lights come on for all directions of vehicle traffic. So all 4 are red, at the same time all 4 walk signs come on so no cars move, not even a right turn on red is allowed. Then all 4 walk signs show don’t walk and 2 directions of vehicle traffic get the green, then the 2 other ones. (in opposite directions).

    In works really well because there is more pedestrian traffic in this area than car traffic. I am sure this wouldn’t work in all intersections but works for Eau Claire.

  4. Kenny Chan says:

    Hakkola: While pedestrians normally do cross in the same direction as traffic, they prevent cars from turning. If you ever watch the intersection at 8th and 8th, you’ll see what I mean. Two lanes of traffic, car in left lane trying to turn left and car in right lane trying to turn right but they both cannot proceed on the green light because there are pedestrians on both sides. Sometimes they don’t get to go until the yellow or red light because of pedestrians that don’t stop walking until they see the red light that is intended only for vehicles.

  5. DNSRadio says:

    I have seen this out in Eau Claire.
    And I believe that this system will do really well within Calgary.
    Even I was shocked today, when this happened on my way home. It caught me off guard but it works.
    I believe that Calgary should use this system at other busy intersections.

  6. iceburns288 says:

    We have these in Champaign, and they work really well. The only thing is, they are only in the area close to our quad and we have over 40,000 students. Obviously, at times there is a LOT of ‘people flux’ between classes. I can’t see this working unless these intersections are really busy.

  7. Altezza says:

    A couple of years ago, some co-workers and I were sitting in Eau Claire discussing this exact idea. I proposed that it would be a fantastic idea. Not all of my co-workers agreed. A couple of weeks later, one of my co-workers said she submitted the idea as a suggestion to the city. Glad to see someone actually listens over there!

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