Chicago's first diagonal crosswalk makes Jackson and State a pedestrian scramble

  • Photograph: Maddie Blecha

    All way pedestrian crossing at State and Jackson

  • Photograph: Kendall Thacker

    All way pedestrian crossing at State and Jackson

  • Photograph: Kendall Thacker

    All way pedestrian crossing at State and Jackson

  • Photograph: Maddie Blecha

    All way pedestrian crossing at State and Jackson

  • Photograph: Kendall Thacker

    All way pedestrian crossing at State and Jackson

  • Photograph: Maddie Blecha

    All way pedestrian crossing at State and Jackson

  • Photograph: Kendall Thacker

    All way pedestrian crossing at State and Jackson

Photograph: Maddie Blecha

All way pedestrian crossing at State and Jackson


The city's first diagonal crosswalk opened today at State Street and Jackson Boulevard as part of a pedestrian safety pilot program by the Chicago Department of Transportation. The altered intersection, also known as a pedestrian scramble, stops all vehicles every other light cycle, allowing peds 14 seconds to cross in every direction. CDOT hopes the experiment, one facet of its Chicago Pedestrian Plan, helps reduce the number of conflicts between walkers and turning automobiles, which contribute to some 3,000 vehicle crashes involving pedestrians in Chicago every year.

Pedestrian- and bike-friendly CDOT commish Gabe Klein, formerly Washington D.C.'s transportation chief, talked about pedestrian scrambles with TOC back in 2011:

You’ve discussed creating diagonal crossings, which you pilot tested in D.C., here in Chicago. Which intersections?
One of the five- or six-way intersections, like Milwaukee, North and Damen. I’ve been yelled at by taxi drivers while I’m crossing in the crosswalk with the walk signal and told to get out of the intersection. The thing that surprised me the most about Chicago is how friendly people are and how mean they get behind the wheel. [Laughs] People think their speed dictates how fast they get somewhere, and that’s something we’re going to have to change through education, enforcement and redesigning our streets so that they’re inherently safer and more efficient.

Pedestrians of five- or six-way intersections like Lincoln Avenue, Irving Park Road and Damen Avenue might be better served by the all-way, crosswise crossing pattern, but the city tends to test in the Loop. Expect a rollout to the neighborhoods to follow if the experiment at Jackson and State is deemed a success.

And what is success? As one study noted, the onus is on pedestrians, to some extent, to make the plan a good investment; if the amount of people crossing—diagonal or otherwise—against red lights and don't-walk signals is high, accidents will probably be high. Crosswalks have only so much power. They can't save you from yourself.   


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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)

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