A Pedestrian Priority Phase (PPP), also known as pedestrian scramble phase, 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. The City has installed PPP at the following five signalised intersections:
- Yonge St/Dundas St
- Yonge St/Bloor St
- Rogers Rd/Old Weston Rd/Watts Ave/Hillary Ave
- Town Centre Crt/Private Access (Service Canada Centre)
- Bay St/Davenport Rd
During the PPP at the Yonge St/Dundas St and Yonge St/Bloor St intersections, pedestrians can cross in the north-south and east-west directions, as well as diagonally, while traffic is stopped in all directions. Pedestrians are also allowed to cross in the north-south direction concurrently with north-south traffic and in the east-west direction concurrently with east-west traffic.
During the PPP at the Town Centre Crt/Private Access (Service Canada Centre) and Bay St/Davenport Rd intersections, pedestrians can only cross in the north-south and east-west directions while traffic is stopped in all directions. Pedestrians are not allowed to cross diagonally. Also, pedestrians are not allowed to cross in the north-south direction concurrently with north-south traffic or in the east-west direction concurrently with east-west traffic.
The Rogers Rd/Old Weston Rd/Watts Ave/Hillary Ave intersection has five legs. During the PPP, pedestrians can only cross in all directions while traffic is stopped in all directions. Pedestrians are not allowed to cross diagonally. Also, pedestrians are allowed to cross in the east-west direction (Rogers Rd) concurrently with east-west traffic.
The Pedestrian Priority Phase was one of the enhanced pedestrian features included in the City’s Sustainable Transportation Initiatives and is consistent with the policies and objectives contained in the City’s Official Plan and Climate Change Plan. The City is committed to enhancing pedestrian safety and supporting transportation initiatives that provide alternatives to the use of private automobiles.
Other Names for the Pedestrian Priority Phase
The Pedestrian Priority Phase is also called the “scramble” phase, “scramble” light, “scramble” corners and “Barnes Dance.” The latter was named after Henry Barnes, a prominent traffic engineer who was credited as the first to use this system of pedestrian crossings in such United States cities as Kansas City, Kan., Vancouver, Wash., Denver, Co., Baltimore, Md., and New York City. The terminology came from a newspaper article that stated “Barnes made the people so happy they’re dancing in the streets.”
Currently, several cities around the world use the Pedestrian Priority Phase including Tokyo, San Francisco, Beverly Hills and more.
How to Use a Pedestrian Scramble as a Cyclist
As a cyclist, you are considered a vehicle according to the Ontario Highway Traffic Act. If you approach one of these three intersections on a bicycle and you need to make a left turn, you have two options.
- Move into the appropriate lane to safely cross the intersection and turn left as a vehicle in the flow of traffic.
- Dismount and walk their bike across the crosswalk as a pedestrian.
You must not cycle through a crosswalk and you must stop behind the white stop line. Being in front of the white stop line is illegal, and can be dangerous, too.
Read two reports on the Pedestrian Scramble: