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Scramble: Safe crossing sought at testy Kensington intersections

Anyone who’s driven or walked through the intersection(s) at Kensington Road and 10 Street NW knows it’s a tricky situation to navigate.

A recent collision at this spot got area resident David Gamble thinking a little bit more about how to make it safer. Both for pedestrians and vehicles. 

After all, there’s a quick right-hand turn off Kensington Road and then an instant left turn if you want to head east on Memorial Drive. That intersection is about 50 metres further south.

It can be a quick merge, and when traffic is heavier, pedestrian travel becomes somewhat perilous. Especially if they’re walking against the signal (tsk, tsk) when cars are waiting patiently for signals to turn.

Gamble engaged in a conversation with Ward 7 Coun. Terry Wong about the potential for a scramble crosswalk.  A scramble crosswalk holds lights in all directions at an intersection while pedestrians move in whatever direction they want. That could be diagonal or across.  

Then a new signal allows for the flow of traffic.

“To me, it’s a really pragmatic, simple solution to a situation that I’m sure the city is well aware of, is a dangerous corner,” Gamble said.

“And I would just be really quite happy if we could just have that simple solution even as a temporary solution to just save lives and protect people.”

Both intersections?

Gamble thinks a scramble crosswalk would be welcome at both the Kensington and 10Street NW intersection, and Memorial and 10 Street.

He just doesn’t want it to become an endless discussion.

“I’m trying to be really strategic here. I just think that if I complicate this at all, it’s just going to end up being lost in some kind of political argument,” he said.

NOTE: These are only City of Calgary data, it doesn't include any that may have been logged by the Calgary Police Service.

Prior to meeting with Gamble, Coun. Wong had put in a request for an intersection evaluation at that spot. While he thinks there would be a benefit to pedestrian safety, the area is complex.

“The concern though is, as you can probably appreciate, we've got not one intersection but two intersections to be concerned about,” Wong told LiveWire Calgary.

“Coordinating two intersections to allow a scramble intersection at 10th and Kensington is going to be a challenge.”

Wong is hoping to work with the city’s traffic operations to see if there’s a solution. But it’s going to take some time, he said. Once city engineers provide more input and any potential solutions, Wong said they’d need to talk with the community further.

Big delays: City

In response to an inquiry on the site, the city said scramble intersections are best used in locations with high pedestrian traffic and low traffic.

Signals can be kept short to minimize disruptions to both parties, a response from Pat Grisak, Coordinator, Traffic Management read.

“In situations where there are high traffic volumes, pedestrian scramble operation is not effective because introduction of the additional interval into the signal cycle results in long signal cycles, creating lengthy delays for both pedestrians and motorists,” Grisak said.

Further, lengthy signals can mean non-compliance of both pedestrians and motorists. That presents additional safety challenges.

Grisak said pedestrian scramble options would prolong travel for both walkers and motorists.

Gamble is just hoping for something to be done to improve safety. He understands that change can be scary.  He said maybe it starts as one of the pedestrian priority signals he’s seen in other parts of Calgary.  

“I really, really just want one thing. Just one thing and that is to make it so that people can cross that road safely,” Gamble said.

“Then traffic can also move on to turn right (at Kensington Road) because then everyone's taking their turn.”