That's What They Call That? Scrambled Eggs

Shibuya Station- The World's Busiest Intersection
Shibuya Station- The World's Busiest Intersection

Crosswalks are more than just places to line up for an impromptu stop light drag race, they also serve an important function in pedestrian safety, and provide instruction for the slower Boy Scouts in gaining their granny-helping-across-the-street badge.
Usually, at a 4-way stop, the cross walks are a simple set of white lines with a central divider – like a street-corner tennis court – that allows for safe passage from one side of the street to the adjacent. But what if you need to get to the corner diagonally opposite? That would require you to cross on one light, and then wait for the cycle to switch to the other direction before making your move, which seems like a lot of wasted effort. But that’s not the case if you are lucky enough to live where the use diagonal crosswalks. And did you know there’s a special name for those? Well, there is.

Diagonal crosswalks are a boon to the pedestrian, and vexing to drivers who have to sit and rev their engines through a second light cycle before chripping their tires through the intersection in appropriate hoon fashion. The diagonal crosswalks give pedestrians full run of the intersection, unlike the traditional crossings which force them to just scuttle across the bi-directional lanes like car-less insects, dodging the occasional right-turning vehicle.
Diagonal_crossing_OKNo, the diagonal crosswalk opens the entire crossing to pedestrians, allowing them to strut out into the center, and across to the side kitty-corner from them like they own the place. All the while, regular folk, who know that if you can’t drive, it’s not worth going, have to sit in their cars on all sides of the intersection while the lessor bipedals flaunt their usurpation of their betters’ domain.
The idea of the diagonal crosswalk was first tested in the 1940s in Kansas City Missouri. A similarly timed trial occurred in Vancouver BC, Canada- proving that it didn’t work on just Americans. Since then it has since expanded to most places where cars and pedestrians have an uneasy relationship on the roads- with the exception of Great Britain, where they just stick big, round planters in the middle of their intersections – but even the Brits are considering them.
Of course you can’t have a road feature like this without someone appending a goofy name to it, and as Wikipedia tells us, one proper term for the diagonal crosswalk is Pedestrian Scramble. Now, that does seem fitting, although it could also apply to what happens to the stragglers when they are left mid-intersection when the light changes and you drop the hammer as it’s your God-given right to slam through that intersection, because the green light tells you so.
Other names for the diagonal crossing are Barnes Dance, Scramble Crossings and Exclusive Pedestrian Phase, but they lack the hilarity that Pedestrian Scramble engenders in your somewhat macabre day dreams while waiting out the light.
Image Sources: [TravelPod, Wikipedia]

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23 responses to “That's What They Call That? Scrambled Eggs”

  1. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

    Hey KC! Oh… wait

    1. Alf Avatar

      It worked well in KC in the ’40s. Both cars had no trouble getting around town.

  2. discontinuuity Avatar

    All those different terms sound like great names for an indie band.

    1. c0de Avatar

      In fact there’s a Lebanese Indie band i love called “Scrambled Eggs”

  3. superbadd75, enriched with vitamins and minerals. Avatar
    superbadd75, enriched with vitamins and minerals.

    You forgot another common name for it. Clusterfuck.

  4. Maymar Avatar

    Pedestrian scramble? More like pedestrian amble. Those damn bipeds never seem to move quickly.

  5. joshuman Avatar

    Hey, do you guys remember that scene in the Fast & Furious Tokyo Drift where they go tail out through the Shibuya Scramble? I couldn’t find the whole scene so just turn the volume off and skip to about 0:50 in this craptastic YouTube clip:

    1. superbadd75, enriched with vitamins and minerals. Avatar
      superbadd75, enriched with vitamins and minerals.

      Anybody that saw enough of Tokyo Drift to actually remember that part certainly wouldn’t admit to it, right?

      1. joshuman Avatar

        Right. I’ve never seen it fifteen times or so. Hey, I used to work at a company that built a DVR called the Moxi. Some of you in Time Warner land might even have one of the older models. Anyway, I had two TVs at my desk and access to HBO so I would put that on with the sound off just to see cars go sideways occasionally. That job was great. I could keep up with all the Aussie V8s, BTCC, air races, Rally America, and so on while working.

    2. iheartstiggie Avatar

      I admit to it. *sigh* I was at Best Buy purchasing an LCD – and it was Tokyo Drift that helped me make the determination that the LED Jutter Rate wasn't quite yet up to par.

  6. FЯeeMan Avatar

    Yup, we had the Scramble Light right in the middle of campus. Of course, we were college kids, so we crossed the street whenever we felt like it, so by the time all the lights were red, there usually weren’t too many people left to cross diagonally. So, yeah, lots of cars left sitting, staring at 4 red lights and 4 weenie kids who wouldn’t jay-walk.

  7. engineerd Avatar

    “Exclusive Pedestrian Phase”
    That’s what I call the part of GTA4 when I get bored with the missions and just start running down people on the side of the road.

    1. c0de Avatar

      there was a game called Carmageddon which is basically that plus racing plus battling with other racers.. pretty AWESOME..

    2. superbadd75, enriched with vitamins and minerals. Avatar
      superbadd75, enriched with vitamins and minerals.

      That’s what I call “Anger Management”.

  8. SirNotAppearing Avatar

    There once was a man who gambled
    His life at a Pedestrian Scramble
    But the light wasn’t red
    And he was struck by a sled
    Now he walks with a diagonal shamble.

    1. SirNotAppearing Avatar

      wtf’s in my water today?

      1. c0de Avatar

        whatever is in there.. keep drinking..

        1. superbadd75, enriched with vitamins and minerals. Avatar
          superbadd75, enriched with vitamins and minerals.

          I agree. Chug it!

    2. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      We encourage this kind of thing around here.

    3. engineerd Avatar

      That was awesome! Asscones for you! <3

    4. joshuman Avatar

      Very appealing.

  9. Van Sarockin Avatar
    Van Sarockin

    I prefer the term Barnes Dance – after the guy who invented it. First ran across it in Regina, Saskatchewan a long time ago. It’s a great way to move lots of people across busy intersections in a hurry. Around here they do it, but won’t sign for it – so I’m often the only one walking across the center of the intersection.

  10. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

    My small town has two traffic lights. At each one, a press of the crossing button at any corner reserves a spot in the light cycle sufficiently long for someone to walk at a slow-to-moderate pace across one road, or to do so briskly across the diagonal (though the diagonal crosswalk is unpainted). Here’s a StreetView (yes, they finally came through!) of where I’m talking about; head a block down the way you’re facing for the other light.

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