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“Pedestrian dance” in Busan, or "Cyclist's scramble" in Groningen.

Date:11 May 2017
Author:Tjalling Halbertsma
Diagonal zebra crossing at main gate PNU
Diagonal zebra crossing at main gate PNU

The iconic pedestrian scramble in front of Tokyo's Shibuya Station must be the world's most famous diagonal zebra crossing in the world, but the intersections outside the main gate of our partner institution Pusan National University (PNU) boast no less than two pedestrian scrambles in a row, and many, many more zebras. 

First installed (and abandoned) in the US in the 1940’s, they became known as "Barnes Dances” after the traffic engineer Henry Barnes (according to the much underrated wikipedia pedestrians were seen "dancing" across the intersections, rather than "scrambling", a much less happy term). 

The zebras outside PNU’s main gate consist of no less than six crossings, though in practice the lanes create a space best described as a temporary public square without the regular loitering. It makes for great viewing from one of the no less than 11 coffee corners situated at the crossings (Korea must boast the highest density of coffee corners in the world, but that's another blog). If you observe well, there is even a double zebra for opposite directions. That would make seven zebras, easily beating the mere five at Shibuya station.

As of 2016 Groningen has followed suit, installing no less than 28 Barnes Dances for cyclists (though the first ones were apparently in use as early as 1989). However, the crossings outside PNU are so well marked with zebras in various angles and interruptions to allow for piping covers, they border on optical illusions.

Groningen students wishing to see PNU's pedestrian scrambles for themselves, might want to enroll in the various summer schools and exchange programmes between Groningen and the PNU. See for further details on these programmes the ceasg website.

Tjalling Halbertsma is CEASG Director International and currently at PNU to promote the various exchanges and joint-projects between the two universities.