To protect pedestrians, cities are going back to the future

Hoping to make it safer to cross the street at busy intersections, some Canadian cities aren’t waiting for high-tech solutions.

Instead, they’re bringing back an idea they’d scrapped half a century ago.

“There’s a lot of conversation around smart signals and adaptive signals, and quite frankly, the technology isn’t there yet and we needed to do something now,” said Olga Messinis, director of transportation operations with the city of Edmonton.

In the fall, Edmonton started testing pedestrian scrambles – which let people cross the street in all directions, including diagonally, when they have the walk signal – at two major intersections.

“They’re locations that have a high pedestrian volume and high instances of left- and right-turn collisions between pedestrians and motorists,” Messinis said. “We wanted to study how a pedestrian scramble would minimize that.”