Beyond cars: A diagonal crosswalk?

In San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter is a single intersection with a diagonal crosswalk. Every few minutes, the stoplights in all directions turn red, and pedestrians are invited to cross the street on all sides — and even walk diagonally from one corner to another.

This is part of the quarter’s commitment to be pedestrian-friendly, according to a tour guide who led us around and told us the history of the quarter. Another nod to pedestrians is the streets in the southern portion of the quarter that have stop signs, not stoplights, and pedestrians always have the right of way. (Granted, that’s the law pretty much everywhere, but we all know that law is oft broken in Dallas.)

A slight problem exists with the diagonal crossing intersection, however: No one knows how it works, not even the locals, our tour guide told us. More after the jump.Because only one intersection was designed this way, it’s an unfamiliar anomaly. The all-ways crosswalk is a valiant effort on the part of the city to make travel easier for those on foot, but perhaps designing multiple intersections this way would have been a better idea.

When the lights turn red, a megaphone-like voice can be heard inviting pedestrians to cross all directions. Before they do, however, they usually look around in bewilderment before cautiously taking a step forward. And very rarely does anyone cross diagonally.

My tour group did, though, because we had the advantage of a guide who showed us the ropes. It’s a very strange thing walking in an angular path across a busy urban intersection, I have to say. But I think my guide is correct that if more such intersections existed in an area, they would be both used and useful.

Bishop Arts has the highest concentration of shops and restaurants in Oak Cliff, and the roads around it, including Davis, are mostly two-lane widths, so this concept wouldn’t be all that helpful. (The exception is Bishop Boulevard between Methodist hospital and Bishop Arts, which should have bike lanes soon; stay tuned to Back Talk for more on that topic.) However, if redevelopment spreads, it might be wisely preemptive to place such a crosswalk somewhere like the precarious Beckley-Zang intersection, where Spiral Diner, Beckley BrewHouse, Rush Patisserie and La Carreta Argentina are congregated, and others might follow.


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