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Video: Pedestrian scrambles make ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus more walkable

The new all-way crosswalks are making foot traffic safer and more efficient

20201202 Pedestrain Scramble-6.jpg
The newly implemented pedestrian scramble on the intersection of Taylor Street and 1st Street in Downtown Phoenix on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. The pedestrian scramble allows for pedestrians to cross in any direction.

A new pedestrian scrambles connects Taylor Place, the Cronkite School building, the University Center and the Beus Center for Law and Society. It allows students on the Downtown Phoenix campus to navigate both quickly and safely. Whenever a pedestrian scramble is activated, all vehicle traffic is stopped, allowing for pedestrians to cross diagonally if needed.

“This can improve safety for people walking because they spend less time in the street,” said Ashley Patton, senior public information officer for Phoenix's Street Transportation Department. Patton said by reducing the length of time that pedestrians are in the street, safety is increased.

Improving pedestrian safety in Phoenix seems to be quite necessary. There were 1,842 pedestrian-involved crashes in 2019, according to data from the Arizona Department of Transportation.

As of fall 2019, ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus saw 11,420 enrolled students, making it the University’s second-most populated campus. “We chose locations where there is a high volume of people walking, because that’s where this specific technology works best,” Patton said.

“I think it makes sense to have pedestrian scrambles where you have a fairly large walking movement,” said Ram Pendyala, director of the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment. “If you’re at a downtown ASU campus with lots of students walking around, maybe not in a pandemic, but in normal times, I think it would be a logical place to have a pedestrian scramble.”

Although these are the only active pedestrian scrambles in downtown Phoenix, they are not the first. 

“The Street Transportation Department has installed pedestrian scrambles in the past, we used to have one at Third Street and Van Buren, near the Arizona Center, many years ago, when it was a high-pedestrian area,” Patton said. She said downtown Phoenix resurging as a high-pedestrian area was the driving factor behind the new pedestrian scrambles.

Currently, there aren’t any plans to install other pedestrian scrambles in Phoenix, however the Street Transportation Department hasn’t ruled them out. 

“This is a great opportunity for our traffic engineers and for our team to look at these as a tool in our toolbox and see if there are other locations where they would be a good fit," Patton said, regarding the possibility of more pedestrian scrambles.

“As an academic, I’m always in favor of research and doing before and after analyses, before you adopt something on a wider scale,” Pendyala said. “In general, I think it’s a good idea. I think we could probably use a pedestrian scramble or two at the ASU Tempe campus as well."

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