In San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter is a single intersection with a diagonal crosswalk. Every few minutes, the stoplights in all directions turn red, and pedestrians are invited to cross the street on all sides — and even walk diagonally from one corner to another.

This is part of the quarter’s commitment to be pedestrian-friendly, according to a tour guide who led us around and told us the history of the quarter. Another nod to pedestrians is the streets in the southern portion of the quarter that have stop signs, not stoplights, and pedestrians always have the right of way. (Granted, that’s the law pretty much everywhere, but we all know that law is oft broken in Dallas.)

A slight problem exists with the diagonal crossing intersection, however: No one knows how it works, not even the locals, our tour guide told us. Because only one intersection was designed this way, it’s an unfamiliar anomaly. The all-ways crosswalk is a valiant effort on the part of the city to make travel easier for those on foot, but perhaps designing multiple intersections this way would have been a better idea.

When the lights turn red, a megaphone-like voice can be heard inviting pedestrians to cross all directions. Before they do, however, they usually look around in bewilderment before cautiously taking a step forward. And very rarely does anyone cross diagonally.

My tour group did, though, because we had the advantage of a guide who showed us the ropes. It’s a very strange thing walking in an angular path across a busy urban intersection, I have to say. But I think my guide is correct that if more such intersections existed in an area, they would be both used and useful.

I, for one, would like to see three in a row along Gaston — one at Abrams, one at Abrams Parkway (the little light near Republic Title), and one at La Vista. All three of those intersections are pretty precarious, but so many great shops and restaurants are in that area it’s a shame it’s not more conducive to walking and cycling.

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