Pedestrian scramble operations (PSOs) are exclusive pedestrian signal phases at signalized intersections. A red traffic light is displayed for vehicle traffic at all approaches, allowing pedestrians to cross the intersection in any direction simultaneously. PSOs are generally classified into three types:
- Type 1: allows pedestrians to cross the intersection diagonally in addition to conventional crossing in both directions. This type is used to increase pedestrian safety by separating pedestrian and vehicle movement in time. However, this type is contingent on sufficient space to store pedestrians while allowing them to cross safely at the designated time.
- Type 2: allows for conventional crossing in both directions but excludes diagonal crossing. This type is used when shorter signal phases are preferred to maintain traffic flow.
- Type 3: allows pedestrians to cross concurrently with parallel vehicle traffic while also providing an exclusive pedestrian crossing phase. This type is typically used when there are safety concerns associated with insufficient sidewalk space to store pedestrians while they wait to cross the intersection.
Determine if pedestrian scrambles at intersections can reduce or eliminate potential collisions between pedestrians and vehicles.
In 2019, the City of Edmonton implemented PSOs at two major intersections: Jasper Avenue and 104 Street and Whyte Avenue and 105 Street. These intersections were selected because of their high pedestrian volumes, high rates of turning vehicles and a history of pedestrian-vehicle collisions.
Data and lessons learned
Data and lessons learned will be provided when findings from the pilot become available.
In 2008, both the City of Calgary and the City of Toronto conducted PSO pilot projects at select downtown locations to increase safety for pedestrians at signalized intersections.
Kattan et al. (2009) conducted a study to evaluate the safety impact of a type one PSO installed at an intersection in downtown Calgary. The study found that the implementation of PSO was associated with a significant decrease in the number of pedestrian-vehicle conflicts occurring at the pilot location. The pilot study also found that, following the implementation of PSO, the number of pedestrian violations increased. However, most of these violations were pedestrians who were able to cross safely despite starting to cross after the “Don’t Walk” signal. Only two per cent of these violations were unsafe-side crossings. Finally, the public perception survey revealed that the majority of respondents (79 per cent) were in favour of implementing PSO in Calgary and 70 per cent believed PSOs would increase safety compared to conventional crossings.
Following the pilot on type three PSOs in Toronto, Bissessar and Tonder concluded that PSOs are best used at intersections with consistently large volumes of pedestrians throughout the day. This minimizes pedestrian non-compliance issues. Additionally, it was noted that each intersection with PSOs should possess the same PSO type and motor vehicle traffic restrictions (such as no right turn on red) to avoid road user confusion, thereby enhancing safety.
The PSO locations and before-after collision data will be used to build programs as a part of the City of Edmonton’s Safe Mobility Strategy 2021–2025.