Pedestrians in the Loop Friday morning got their first look at a new traffic-calming experiment called the “pedestrian scramble”.
The Chicago Department of Transportation is testing the crossing pattern at the intersection of State Street and Jackson Boulevard.
It allows pedestrians to cross in all directions, even diagonally, giving them a head start over drivers with the intention of reducing crashes between cars and pedestrians.
The test involves stopping all vehicles – heading east on Jackson and north and south on State – for about 14 seconds every other light cycle to give pedestrians a jump on traffic to cross in all directions, including diagonally, according to Bill McCaffrey, a spokesman for the Chicago Department of Transportation.
The “pedestrian scramble” was developed more than 70 years ago. It is already used in other large cities, like Washington, D.C. and Tokyo, Japan.
The test is part of a larger plan by Chicago Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein to reduce speeds and the number of vehicle travel lanes on busy streets in an effort to slash the number of crashes.
About 3,000 vehicle crashes involving pedestrians — causing several dozen pedestrian deaths — occur in Chicago each year, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. The city’s pedestrian plan calls for reducing crash-related pedestrian injuries by 50 percent.