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Nashville's 1st Diagonal Crosswalks for Pedestrian Safety go live on Broadway between 2nd and 5th Avenues North


Nashville’s 1st diagonal crosswalks for pedestrian safety will allow crossing in every direction while cars have an all-red signal phase

In an effort to improve the safety and experience of pedestrians, Metro Public Works is installing Nashville’s first “pedestrian scramble” diagonal crosswalks on Lower Broadway between 2nd and 5th Avenues North this week. The safer intersection markings are being installed as part of continued efforts to support the vitality of Nashville’s Lower Broadway.

Metro Public Works has worked in partnership with Metro Nashville Police Department, Nashville Downtown Partnership and the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp during a pilot program on Lower Broadway to maximize the safety and experience of all users. This intersection is one of the county’s busiest, with high pedestrian volumes and 15,000 vehicles traveling through the area each day.

A pedestrian scramble (also known as the Barnes dance) gives a walk signal to pedestrians in all directions at the same time at a signalized intersection while drivers are stopped in all directions. The primary advantage is that pedestrians can cross the intersection without any conflicting motor vehicle movements. Pedestrians can cross the intersection straight or diagonally, thereby completing two crossings at once. The ‘Barnes Dance’ takes its name from traffic engineer Henry Barnes, who served as street commissioner for a number of major American cities in the 20th century, including Denver, Baltimore and New York. Barnes didn’t invent the pedestrian scramble, but he did popularize it during his time in office. The Barnes dance got its name when a reporter wrote that the crossings made the people so happy they were dancing in the streets.; The ‘Barnes Dance’ works when everyone follows the traffic and pedestrian signalizations.

“The improvements announced today on Lower Broadway are intended to increase pedestrian safety while also balancing the needs of all modes of transportation through this vibrant area,” said Mayor Megan Barry. “My goal is to improve mobility throughout the county and to make our streets and public spaces safer and more livable.”

“Minimizing areas of potential conflict between pedestrians, cyclists and vehicular traffic increases safety, and this is our priority,” said Mark Macy, Public Works Director. “Throughout the Lower Broadway pilot program, we have been and will continue to look for ways to make this area safer in a manner that complements the character and setting of this iconic Nashville corridor.”

Use of the pedestrian scrambler and new diagonal crosswalks will take some getting used to, and Metro Public Works will work with Metro Police to closely monitor the use of the new crosswalks. Pedestrians must only walk when traffic is stopped in all directions and the pedestrian signals indicate it is time to walk. At that time, pedestrians can proceed in any direction, diagonal or straight across. Motorists are stopped during the scramble crossing – when the all-direction walk signal and all-direction red traffic signals are displayed. When the green traffic light is displayed, pedestrians are stopped, and motorists can proceed as usual. Cyclists must dismount and walk their bicycles if they want to cross on the pedestrian scramble signal. Cyclists who do not dismount their bicycles are legally considered vehicles and must obey vehicular traffic signals.

Several measures have been put in place since the Lower Broadway Pilot Pedestrian Improvements Project began, including portable inter-linking fencing to designate an expanded pedestrian sidewalk area from 1st to 5th Avenues. The fences have added 6 feet of additional walking area, and the department is continuing to monitor their effectiveness. Dedicated loading zones have been created for deliveries, musicians, taxis, carriages and buses; and the department continues to work with the public, project partners, and stakeholders to ensure the best outcome of the pilot.

Project comments may be submitted to Metro Public Works Customer Service Center either by calling 615-862-8750 or by completing our online customer service form.