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Diagonal crossing in Cologne, Germany
A pedestrian scramble, also known as a 'X' Crossing (UK), diagonal crossing (US), scramble intersection (Canada), exclusive pedestrian phase, and more poetically Barnes Dance, is a pedestrian crossing system that stops all vehicular traffic and allows pedestrians to cross an intersection in every direction at the same time. It was first used in Kansas City, Missourimarker and Vancouvermarker, British Columbia, Canada in the late 1940s, and has since then been adopted in many other cities and countries. It was most recently adopted in Toronto in 2008 and in London's busy Oxford Circusmarker in 2009. The most famous implementation of this kind of intersection is in Shibuya, Tokyo.


The name Barnes Dance comes from Henry Barnes; though he was not the inventor of the pedestrian scramble, he was the first to use the system on a large scale. In his autobiography, The Man With the Red and Green Eyes, he writes that the phrase was first coined by a City Hall reporter, John Buchanan.


In Hartford, Connecticutmarker every crossing outside of the city centre requires all traffic to stop. Many crossings in the city centre do the same, such as the city's busiest intersection at Main and Gold Streets.

In Japanmarker, where over 300 such intersections exist, it is known as a .

In Torontomarker, Ontariomarker, Canadamarker, the intersection of Yonge Street and Dundas Streetmarker, adjacent to Yonge-Dundas Squaremarker, is a scramble intersection as is Yonge Street and Bloor Street. More intersections in Toronto are expected to follow this method of pedestrian crossing.

In Aucklandmarker, New Zealandmarker, the Barnes Dance was introduced in 1958, and became a feature of the city's main street, Queen Streetmarker, as well as being adopted in other New Zealand cities. In recent years it has been under attack from traffic planners. It is still used on several intersections on Colombo Street in Christchurchmarker, but the only application in Dunedinmarker at Cargill's Corner was abandoned during the 1980s.

In London, UK, a diagonal crossing has been constructed at Oxford Circus.

Pros and cons

The pedestrian scramble has advantages and disadvantages. It requires vehicular traffic in all directions to stop, losing time for motorists and reducing an intersection's vehicular capacity, although it may be mitigated by time gained removing pedestrian signals across individual streets. It is also often difficult to ensure that an intersection is free of pedestrians at the end of the scramble time. For these reasons, some traffic engineering textbooks discourage the pedestrian scramble except at low-volume rural and suburban intersections where there may be a safety benefit.

However, intersections with high volumes of turning traffic and high pedestrian volumes can greatly benefit from a pedestrian scramble. Capacity in all directions lost during the scramble can be offset by that saved by cross-turning vehicles not blocking the intersection while waiting for pedestrians .

See also


  1. Oxford Circus 'X-crossing' opens
  3. Roess, Prassas, & McShane, Traffic Engineering, 3rd Edition (2004), ISBN 0-13-142471-8

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