I haven’t crossed one of Edmonton’s new “scramble interactions” yet (located at 104 Street and Jasper Avenue), but I’m hungry for more of them. These could be a cure for YEG’s neverending congestion hangover.
If you’re a little perplexed by the name of this infrastructure, that’s okay. The name is confusing. Scrambling indicates chaotic movement. You scramble eggs. You scramble when you go off-trail to climb a mountain. But now, we’re scrambling intersections?
The project is part of Edmonton’s oft-discussed Vision Zero Strategy. The scrambled intersections at these two locations are part of a pilot to see if this works for Edmonton. The premise is as follows; scramble intersections allow for vehicular and pedestrian traffic to move within their own distinct phases. Instead of pedestrians heading east or west when cars move east or west, they now cross the intersections in any direction within their own phase. Then there’d be a phase for cars heading east-west, then one for cars heading north-south. After that, the cycle starts again. Check out this video to see it all in action. Overall, providing phases for modes of transportation through scramble intersections means users can utilize infrastructure more safely and efficiently because they don’t come into conflict.
Scramble intersections aren’t even a brand new idea for Edmonton. There’s been one at 100A Street and Jasper Avenue since 2012. However, that’s a minor intersection. The new projects are remarkable because they’re located on major intersections for both cars and people. You know where else there are major intersections for both cars and people? The University of Alberta.
Most of our campus is pretty friendly for pedestrians. Wide sidewalks and limited vehicle access make for a place where getting around on foot is the best option. It’s always funny to see a car timidly drive through campus. The typical roles of traffic, with cars reigning supreme, become subverted. Just get back to where you belong, you Toyota Corolla!
But then there’s 87th Avenue. The street does a superb job of slicing campus in two, creating an island of medical studies buildings to the south and a continent of everything else to the north. Because of this, there’s often herds of people crossing during the day. This both creates a headache for commuters in cars and puts pedestrians in danger. I’ve almost been hit so many times, I feel like it’s a U of A right of passage.
87th Avenue at 112 Street and 114 Street could be sweet locations for scramble intersections. People could cross safely and in whichever direction they want. Cars wouldn’t have to wait for pedestrians crossing to make turns. It would’ve made the Students’ Union’s protest more efficient when a horde of students chased President David Turpin from ECHA to his Office in SAB.
But the key word is “could.” This idea is efficient if it’s the right situation. Will campus’ daily and seasonal population swings fry this plan? Will it really make left and right turns over-easy for cars? Will it really fix congestion problems, or just hard-boil Edmontonians’ nerves? I’m not sure yet, all I’m saying is that it’s worth a crack!