An Ex-Pedestrian Scramble: Jackson/State Markings Are Nearly Gone

Looking southwest from the northeast corner. Photo: John Greenfield

Yesterday I looked at crosswalks that were installed in November at the Logan Square traffic circle and are already vanishing. This afternoon I dropped by the city’s only pedestrian scramble intersection, downtown at State and Jackson, where X-shaped crosswalks were striped last May and are now almost completely gone.

While the Logan crosswalks were marked with thermoplastic on too-cold pavement, so that the molten plastic didn’t properly bond with the asphalt and was quickly scraped away by snowplows, the scramble was striped with regular paint, which fades quickly under the best of circumstances. The scramble, which also includes signs and recorded announcements alerting pedestrians that diagonal crossings are permitted, was unveiled by the city with great fanfare last spring.

Looking northeast from the southwest corner on opening day. Photo: John Greenfield

Now that the diagonally crosswalks are virtually gone, it appears that very few people are taking advantage of the opportunity to cross diagonally during the pedestrian-only phase. However, the conventional crosswalks were marked with thermoplastic and are still quite visible, so people are still crossing both east-west and north-south at the same time during the scramble phase.

Looking northwest from the southeast corner. Photo: John Greenfield

Hopefully the city will re-stripe the diagonal crosswalks as soon as it’s warm enough to do so, so that the junction will function as a true pedestrian scramble intersection once again.

  • Solution in Search of Problem

    Only this blog could possibly like the Barnes crossing at Jackson/State. It suffers from so many problems. Because of it no vehicle turns are now allowed at that intersection. That forces northbound drivers to go to Monroe and then double back. It also forced the re-route of the busy 151 bus to Dearborn Street. Ridership is now suffering because of that. The Barnes crossing is very unnecessary in Chicago as our intersections are small (unlike LA where these crossings are common). Thus the time to cross an intersection is short (again unlike LA). And in the Loop the east-west and north-south streets are timed similarly. So, no pedestrian gets stuck waiting a long time for a crossing. There are so many other better locations for Barnes crossings in Chicago. This one was rushed only so Gabe Klein could get his Abbey Road photo.

  • I agree with you that this wasn’t the most necessary intersection in Chicago for a ped scramble. That would probably be North/Damen/Milwaukee, where it’s very common for large numbers of people to make illegal, dangerous direct crossings. That’s because it’s so much more convenient to do so than to make the multiple crossings the city expects you to make. A ped scramble would help solve that problem.

  • BlueFairlane

    What? You’re not going to use that picture of Gabe Klein looking goofy?

    I’ve mentioned many times before, this is the fate of “innovative” (read: gimmicky) transportation initiatives in this city. Until we figure out how to accomplish something as simple as keeping a line on a street painted longer than a winter, I think we’d be better off avoiding any over-complication of the system.

  • oooBooo

    Redoing paint and pavement annually is a feature, not a bug.

  • alexfrancisburchard

    I think Michigan Avenue would also be a good candidate for scrambles, as it is very wide, and the roads that cross it (ohio, ontario, chicago, Wacker, Randolph, Roosevelt) are very wide as well.

  • Randolph and Michigan, where you currently need to make three crossings to get from the Chicago Cultural Center to Millennium Park because the city took out a crosswalk, would be a good candidate.

  • Pete

    That is a good idea (putting it at North/Damen/Milwaukee)! Angled intersections are a clusterfail no matter what. Putting it on state street made no sense at all, and I’d be surprised if those lines end up getting repainted.

  • BlueFairlane

    It is a feature of a buggy place. Other places–even cold, snowy places like Duluth or Denver–have figured out ways to keep the paint visible.

    Of course, if Chicago had the feature of redoing paint annually, then maybe we’d be less likely to notice the bug. But there are streets in this town that haven’t had lines for years.

  • Mishellie

    There are so many of these. I’d say most of the streets I ride my bike on don’t have lane markings. And some of them (Chicago ave specifically) have anywhere between 1 and 3 travel lanes depending on how cars feel atm. It’s confusing and dangerous.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    But we have streets with major intersections near schools that have lost their crosswalk stripes long ago and have not been repainted in years. Oh the school-children. Oh the humanity. We have money in the budget to paint crazy crosswalk’s downtown that confuse drivers, but no money in the neighborhoods. What a feature!

  • Thermoplastic tends to last longer than paint. I think the decision to use paint here and at many other places with “innovative” infrastructure is to “see what happens without making it permanent”.

  • BlueFairlane

    So what about all the other places where there haven’t been lines for years?

  • oooBooo

    But if your cousin painted the lines it changes the perspective.

  • oooBooo

    You need to think of this from the perspective of an elected office holder or bureaucrat. The planning bureaucrats are looking for their next job. They need to look like stars. Getting the neighborhood crosswalks in order doesn’t help their resumes. The office holders also want to get on TV to show the innovations they are bringing to the city. Lots more votes that way then doing something mundane like neighborhood school crosswalks. And don’t forget the nephew with the street marking painting business, he’s got to get something out of this too.

  • Peter

    Agree 100% on N/M/D intersection. What would you think of also adding North/Clyborn, Halstead/Lincoln/Fullerton and Clark/Belmont.

  • All except possibly the last one make sense to me — not sure if there’s enough foot traffic and/or traffic chaos there to warrant it there, but that may change after a new mixed-use development is built on the NW corner:


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