Pedestrian scramble intersections give people safer options for crossing

This week we were telling you about the drastic number of pedestrians killed on the roads across the U.S. In Atlanta, a unique intersection design, called a Pedestrian Scramble, is helping to keep pedestrians safe. The new design at Tech Square, near the Midtown campus, is stopping traffic and turning heads.

"It's basically an intersection that favors bicycles and pedestrians more so than the cars," explains Justin von Hanna, who works nearby.

Students at Georgia Tech seem to be fans. "Yeah. I walk across it. My sorority house is on the other if I’m trying to go there, I just go that way so I don't have to cross up there. It saves a little bit of time. It's cool," adds student Ashley Starnes.

The signals shut down all traffic to vehicles, opening up the whole intersection for pedestrians to cross.  "We have a little countdown for our students... 15-second countdown where they have a chance to walk in any direction every corner of the intersection, to include diagonally," explains Georgia Tech Police Officer William Rackley.

These types of intersections are more common in Europe and Japan, but they're gaining ground in the U.S. and around Atlanta. The goal is to keep people moving, while cutting down on danger. "We want them to feel safe. It is a very busy area and we don't want anything to take place that we can't control," adds Officer Rackley.

The Tech Square scramble is about halfway through its 90-day trial period. The project is being funded by the Midtown Traffic Operations Program, through Midtown Alliance.

"We see it works, again, people love it here. We're going to try and hopefully work with them and tweak some things, make it better," Officer Rackley says. They hope to improve some of the signage and markings and work to keep vehicle traffic flowing more.

"For pedestrians, I think it's great. For cars and traffic, depending on the time of day it's not so much," Justin says.

In addition to this intersection, there are several others around town, including a couple on Georgia State's campus. 

GSU- Courtland Street at Gilmer Street

GSU- Park Place/Pryor Street at Decatur Street

Beltline- Krog Street at DeKalb Avenue

Dunwoody- North Shallowford Road at Dunwoody Park

"I mean if they're going to do it here, they might as well do it everywhere else," Ashley says.

Along with the scramble, crews also installed new signs allowing right-hand turns onto 4th street but they've also limited left turns onto Spring Street at certain heavy times.

Remember too, the large "X" in the middle of the intersection means "Don't Block the Box." You can be cited.