A Video of Toronto’s First Scramble Intersection

Today saw the launch of Toronto’s first scramble intersection, at the corner of Yonge and Dundas. I think of these as Tokyo-style intersections, where traffic is stopped in all four directions and pedestrians can cross in any direction, including diagonally:

Flanked by the Eaton Centre and Yonge-Dundas Square, the intersection is used by about 100,000 pedestrians a day and is the site of Toronto’s first trial run for the scramble concept, meant to make crossing safer and more efficient for pedestrians and long used elsewhere, including some other cities in Canada.

While striding through the intersection diagonally yesterday, Glenn De Baeremaeker, the city’s works committee chairman, agreed that it felt a bit naughty: “You’re looking for an Elmer the Safety Elephant to be scolding you from the side. … It’s organized chaos.”

Sam from Daily Dose of Imagery made a terrific bird’s eye view video of the intersection in action (bigger version on Vimeo):

Scramble from Sam Javanrouh on Vimeo.


  1. I think it would make more sense if we could do that at every intersection. Sometimes we need to go to the other corner but have to wait to cross one street and then the other. Depending on traffic conditions etc. I hope it works and we have more of them. I like it more then traffic circles, though I guess this is traffic circles for pedestrians in a way.

  2. I really don’t think that the lines on the ground at the intersection pointing towards the centre are necessary. They don’t have these in Glasgow and everyone understands that when the light is on for pedestrians, it’s a free for all. Canadians are always thinking these things through way too much.
    I can’t wait to see all intersections like these.

  3. This is such a *waste*.

    Yong/Dundas was no turns period (North-South and East-West) so pedestrians were never in any danger and were hardly impeded by waiting for a second light change (you have to wait for several sub-cycles if you want to use the “scramble” option.

    Now … if they had placed it at Front and York/University or York and King (check those out some day for pedestrian traffic) it would have made excellent sense.

    1. It is only a matter of time before I get hit by a car running the #@$#@ light at Front and York. That intersection is very dangerous for pedestrians.

  4. These are called a ‘Barnes Dance’ in New Zealand. Some even have animated pedestrian lights (wait…wait..wait…meander!) and a countdown timer so that pedestrians can see how long they have until they get run over.

  5. Finally! 🙂 Although I think it should have been launched at Bay & Bloor first cause that intersection is WAY more chaotic then Yonge & Dundas.

    The idea is great! As a pedestrian I’ll be able to cross diagonally across the intersection. As a driver, I’ll finally be able to make a right turn on one green light without having to wait for a gap in pedestrians because when it’s the car’s right of way, no pedestrians are supposed to be crossing. The result: a better functioning intersection that allows people and cars to move freely and clearing up grid lock. I lived in Japan for over 2 years and the intersections really work to clear up grid lock!

    The problem, however, is that pedestrians in Toronto aren’t paying attention to their signals at the new Yonge-Dundas scramble so they are crossing the street when they shouldn’t be (ie. when it’s the cars’ right of way). It doesn’t really matter at that intersection cause traffic can’t turn left or right in any direction anyway, but at an intersection like Bay & Bloor, it would make a HUGE difference. Because if pedestrians were crossing when it’s the car’s right of way, then gridlock will actually worsen (from the delayed green for cars, and then waiting for the gap in pedestrians to make a right turn).

    This is a new idea in Toronto and City officals should display better signage so pedestrians and drivers are aware of their roles in the new scramble intersection.

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