In an effort to put safety and convenience at the forefront, this busy site installed a Carlsbad Scramble, allowing pedestrians to cross not only across the street but diagonally, too. Photo courtesy of City of Carlsbad

New crosswalk leads to efficiency for pedestrians and motorists

CARLSBAD — The recent traffic signal revamping at Carlsbad Boulevard and Carlsbad Village Drive has already jump started better foot and vehicle traffic. 

In an effort to put safety and convenience at the forefront, this busy site installed a Carlsbad Scramble, allowing pedestrians to cross not only across the street but diagonally, too.

“The Carlsbad Scramble in a nutshell is separating pedestrians from motorists,” said Bryan Jones, city of Carlsbad deputy transportation director. “It gives pedestrians their own time within the traffic signal cycle to cross the intersection in any direction including diagonally all at the same time; then motorists get to go when they get a green and pedestrians should not be crossing as they will all be given a red hand for ‘don’t walk.’”

If the “scramble” sounds faintly familiar, Jones pointed out that this type of traffic signal is used in a number of cities throughout the world. There’s even one at the San Diego Gaslamp District.

The pedestrian scramble works extremely well dealing with large numbers of people walking and driving on the road. According to the city’s analysis, roughly 6,000 pedestrians and 30,000 to 35,000 motorists cross that intersection every single day.

Jones said the new technology removes pedestrian-vehicle conflicts and reduces the pedestrian “cross and wait time.”

While the scramble allows pedestrians to make a more direct beeline to their destination is does not change the overall cycle for motorists.

“We are still able to serve the motorists as frequently as before but now more efficiently and effectively,” Jones said. He continued, “And in the process we reduced the pedestrian time crossing multiple legs of the intersection by nearly 50 percent.”

From start to finish, the Carlsbad Scramble price tag was just under $10,000.

“Prior to the scramble being installed, motorists often had difficulty turning right on a green light because that particular movement was blocked by pedestrians crossing,” he said. “So as a result many of the right-turners backed up and had to make the movement on a red light. Now motorists can turn right on a green light when it is their turn.”

At this time, there are no future plans to implement another scramble intersection in Carlsbad.

Soon after the installation, Jones journeyed down there with a video crew. A short taping was filmed so people could watch the updated news on the city website. People were curious and asked Jones what was going on.

“The overwhelming majority thought the idea made sense and was a great solution,” said Jones, adding how people told him they were looking forward to using the scramble. “We even had a traffic engineer from another city as a tourist in our town walk through the intersection while we were there and he agreed it made a lot of sense.”

Intuitively, Jones said, pedestrians gravitated to crossing diagonally.

Kristina Ray, communications manager for the city of Carlsbad, said that Carlsbad’s priority is making traffic flow smoothly and safely.

They also want to encourage people to enjoy various other types of transportation such as walking and biking.

Ray said the Carlsbad Scramble does both.

“This intersection is also a prime area for visitors, especially in the summer,” she said. “The faster and easier they can get around, the more time they have to enjoy the beach, local shops and restaurants.”

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