Chicago's "scramble" intersection
The San Ysidro Planning and Development Group (a committee of citizens) is going to ask the City of San Diego to try a “scramble" intersection where Camino de la Plaza, Beyer Boulevard, and San Ysidro Boulevard meet.
The planning group this week voted unanimously to ask the city to seek funding for a demonstration project — a tryout.
Scramble intersections are where all traffic in all directions stops completely and pedestrians can cross in any direction, including diagonally. There are scramble intersections in Chicago, Tijuana, and Japan — including the world's busiest intersection in downtown Tokyo.
"It really cuts the number of people being hit by cars," planning group member Steve Otto said at the February 23 meeting. "That intersection now has people, bikes, pedicabs, and vehicles moving through it."
In an interview, chairman Michael Freedman said that a recently completed study by a city consultant recommended a roundabout for the intersection, just east of Interstate 5 and just north of the border.
The intersection is crazy with traffic from the I-5 and border drop-offs and pickups. The trolley comes through, as do city buses. Pedestrian traffic can be heavy, both south and northbound; and traffic trying to get on the first U.S. freeway ramp north of Mexico must come through. With the new San Ysidro Transit Center under construction, the traffic study concluded that there will be even more traffic.
"Scramble intersections can create a much better flow of pedestrians and vehicles, although drivers may not like that they can't make that right turn on red," Freedman said.
Freedman proposed the idea after seeing scramble intersections in Japan.
"They're counterintuitive at first, but they can work really well," he said, noting that the planning group isn't adamant about the idea — they just want to try it out and see if it works, as a smarter choice than a roundabout.
"If you do a roundabout, you have to engineer and build it with concrete, and if it doesn't work, you have to tear all that out," Freedman said. "A scramble intersection demonstration project — that means signage and striping and reprogramming traffic lights — [is] not that costly to undo in case it doesn't help."