Up above is a video showing the changes that were recently implemented on a major intersection in London called the Oxford Circus. Besides the traffic calming measures of reconfiguring the lane widths and alignments, the major change here is the implementation of what’s referred to as the “pedestrian scramble” where all vehicular traffic is stopped and the intersection is turned over to pedestrians to cross at any angle.
While this device is most commonly used for intersections with very high pedestrian volumes, such as this London intersection or the famous scramble in Japan at Hachik Square in Shibuya, Tokyo, it has been used in less major cities as well. Wikipedia reported (without citation) that the first such intersection was implemented in the 1940s in Kansas City and Vancouver and has since been found in many other cities around the world. Tom Vanderbilt at How We Drive notes that the first occurrence could have been in Denver.
Louisville has its own pedestrian scramble of sorts without knowing it. Next time you’re at the intersection of Fifth Street and Main Street, notice how for a time all traffic is stopped and pedestrians can cross at all crosswalks (and no turns are allowed on red), meaning it should technically be safe to cross diagonally. That’s very similar to the scramble without diagonal movements codified. Below is the same intersection drawn with scramble markings. I am not sure why the intersection behaves this way without being a true scramble or if it’s legal to cross diagonally, but it’s an interesting part of Downtown.
[Movie via How We Drive.]