You may have heard of a barn dance, but have you heard of a Barnes dance? In Denver, Colorado, in the late 1940s, traffic engineer Henry Barnes was the first engineer to install the “Scramble,” a system of crosswalks that allow pedestrians to cross intersections in any direction, including diagonally. A controversial concept, the Scramble favored foot traffic over vehicle traffic and gave pedestrians a safe and controlled interval to cross streets in a way most efficient to the pedestrian.
When interviewed in the Denver paper, Barnes pointed out that he wasn’t the inventor of the Scramble, and that he was merely the first engineer to apply it to a metropolitan intersection. The author wrote, “Barnes has made the people so happy they’re dancing in the streets.” Other traffic engineers jokingly referred to the Scramble as the Barnes dance.
Since the 1940s, municipalities around the globe have introduced Barnes dances, aka Scrambles, to their city centers. The city of Santa Monica, California, has long endeavored to improve the quality of life for its pedestrian-friendly streets. In 2016, the city adopted a plan to make the city’s streets safer for pedestrians. Eleven intersections were selected to receive pedestrian Scrambles. After a period of public hearings, Santa Monica officials agreed to make their Scrambles functional and beautiful by enlisting designers and artists in their creation.
Kyle selected this location while on assignment for Uber’s bike-share program. “I was photographing all over Southern California, but I was really taken by the patterns in the crosswalks in Santa Monica. I had to time the shot perfectly to get the empty crosswalk. The red bike in the intersection really stands out against this strong background.”