Minneapolis installs first pedestrian-friendly 'Barnes Dance' crossing

The south end of Bde Maka Ska is home to one of the busiest pedestrian intersections in Minneapolis.

Now the city is signaling a new approach to keeping those pedestrians safe.

"We kind of looked at all the crosswalks, and it just kind of made sense and it's great to be able to cross so easily," said Lisa Durant, who was out for a walk around the lake with her daughter.

Last week, crews installed a new traffic light sequence at Richfield Road and West Bde Maka Ska Parkway devoted exclusively to pedestrians.

After someone presses the walk button, signal lights stop all the cars at the intersection long enough for people on foot to cross in any direction they want, including diagonally, at the same time.

"We thought this would be a great location for two reasons. One, there is a high number of pedestrians between the lakes here. There is also a traffic pattern that wants to take people diagonally across the intersection on that very long crossing," said Allan Klugman, City of Minneapolis Principal Professional Engineer.

The so-called 'Barnes Dance" is named after Henry Barnes, a famous traffic engineer who popularized the pedestrian scramble as it is known in the 40's, 50's, and 60's. 

City officials say the signal timing has been used in cities like Denver, New York and Tokyo, but this is the first in Minneapolis and possibly Minnesota.

"I think in past times, engineers cared more about cars than pedestrians, but now we are turning that model around, and we want to make our intersections more safe for pedestrians, and this is a great tool to do that," said Klugman.

People out for a stroll around the lakes we talked to think it's a step in the right direction.

"I felt like people, because its different, were paying attention to the intersection," said Durant.

 "I'd be down for more. I'd love to see more of these around the city for sure," said Durant's daughter, Jacklyn Graber.