Walk this way: Unique crosswalk configuration will debut in center of Downtown Palm Springs

The need for improvements stems from a study of pedestrian and bicycle accidents on the city’s main roadways between 2006-2016.

A new type of crosswalk is coming to Downtown Palm Springs as part of $3.8 million in work being done to the city’s main drag.
 
Driving the news: The Palm Springs City Council approved a contract at its last regular meeting that provides money for several different pedestrian and cyclist safety measures along Palm Canyon Drive. 
 
On tap: One of the standout changes is the “pedestrian scramble” planned for the center of downtown at the intersection of Palm Canyon Drive and Tahquitz Canyon Way near the Starbucks Reserve.

  • Think of it as a crosswalk that allows pedestrians to “walk all ways” at an intersection. Vehicles in all directions must stop to allow pedestrians to cross in any direction, including diagonally. 

Why it matters: A study from Transport for London showed a diagonal crossing reduced pedestrian casualties by 38%. That outcome is mirrored in other studies and anecdotal evidence.

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  • These crosswalks can also relieve stress for drivers since they can worry less about pedestrians in the intersection as they’re making a turn.

By the numbers: The need for improvements stems from a study of pedestrian and bicycle accidents on the city’s main roadways that analyzed 17 accidents on Palm Canyon Drive in the Downtown area between 2006-2016.

  • None of the accidents in that corridor in that time period were fatal, and 18% of the accidents were severe. 

Flashback: Once councilmembers reviewed the findings, they approved two major projects. The South and East Palm Canyon parts of the project were completed in 2021.

  • Because of the pandemic, the North Palm Canyon portion was initially canceled. 

Looking ahead: Some city planners want more of these intersections because they prioritize the pedestrian over the car. They argue the slight increase in wait time at intersections in cars is worth it to prevent pedestrian accidents.

  • To design a city for pedestrians rather than for cars is an idea that is growing in popularity and turning the tide on decades of conventional wisdom that has made roads faster and more efficient for cars, but deadlier for pedestrians.

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