Do you want to dance?
Have you seen the new intersection at University and Lincoln on the Boise State campus? The design of this intersection, known as the Barnes Dance, has been around since the 1940s, but has been used relatively little in Ada County.
The Barnes Dance, also known as “the Scramble”, gives pedestrians their own protected phase at an intersection in which they are allowed to cross the street in any direction, including diagonally.
A few years ago, Boise State was looking at ways to improve pedestrian access from their new Honors College building on the west side of University to the east side. Through a collaboration with ACHD, one of the ideas the team generated involved adding a pedestrian-only phase for the University/Lincoln intersection (vehicles would have a red indication in all directions during this phase).
The idea is that with so many pedestrians trying to cross multiple legs of an intersection, a pedestrian-only phase can actually be more efficient for everyone. By allowing all crossings (even a diagonal crossing) to occur simultaneously, pedestrians experience less delay and motorists have less pedestrians to contend with when turning. During the vehicle phases, no pedestrian movements are allowed.
A Barnes Dance intersection used to exist at the intersection of 8th and Bannock, but once 8th Street was converted from a southbound one-way street to a northbound one-way street, the configuration no longer made sense there.
While certain circumstances must be present in order for this type of intersection to pencil out, the Barnes Dance could come up again as a good solution for an intersection solution in the future, though no plans exist at this present time.