Neighbors split on ‘pedestrian scramble’ crosswalk

Alpharetta has given the red light to diagonal crosswalks at a downtown intersection, citing lengthy traffic backups that pose a safety risk for drivers.

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The design, known as a pedestrian scramble, allows walkers to cross an intersection diagonally but forces traffic in all four directions to stop at once. Alpharetta installed the design in August 2021 at Milton Avenue and Canton Street, costing about $100,000.

In a 5-to-2 vote Monday night, city council voted to kick the design to the curb. The lights are no longer operating and workers will remove the yellow crosswalks in the next few weeks. This decision comes after city officials monitored the intersection to review the design’s effectiveness after fielding complaints about the traffic slowdowns.

“They can be very effective,” James Drinkard, a spokesman for the city, said of the pedestrian scrambles. “You need a high pedestrian count for them to really work.”


The backups would often stretch to Main Street—Ga. Hwy. 9—causing serious traffic delays on that major route. Combined with traffic flowing in and out of the Innovation Academy on Milton Avenue, Drinkard said driver and pedestrian safety was threatened. In order for the design to work effectively, he said, the intersection needs a higher volume of walkers using the crosswalks.

“Here we saw one or two,” he said. “At that point, is the convenience of those one or two pedestrians at any given moment more important than the safety aspects you have at State Route 9?”

This design is one of only a few in the metro Atlanta region. Others include the intersection of Fifth and Spring streets in Midtown Atlanta. Another is at the intersection of 10th Street and Piedmont in Midtown.

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The pedestrian scramble had its fans, including Adam Lowe of Dallas, Texas, who was seeing the design for the first time. “I can see where it would cause a backup,” he said. “But I’m walking today, so it’s good for me.”

Charlie Brooks, who lives down the street from the intersection, has mixed feelings about it. “I think it’s good if I’m a pedestrian, so I don’t have to wait at both spots,” he said. “But if I’m a car sitting here, you have to wait much too long to get across.”

Another Alpharetta resident, Nancy Rose, calls it good riddance. “I think it was a waste of money,” she said. “People who can’t walk across the street from corner to corner shouldn’t be out walking. I just don’t think it works for here.”