As part of an effort to increase pedestrian safety, decrease vehicle-pedestrian accidents and decrease traffic congestion in Los Angeles, city officials plan to convert pedestrian and vehicle-heavy intersections in various communities, including Venice, into diagonal crossing intersections.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was joined by Los Angeles

City Councilmembers Jack Weiss and Wendy Greuel at an intersection in Westwood August 7th to announce the debut of the diagonal crosswalk, the city’s latest pedestrian safety and traffic relief measure.

The diagonal crosswalks will give pedestrians the “OK” to walk across streets and intersections in any direction, including diagonally.

The city plans to convert intersections into diagonal crosswalks in phases, with the first ten conversions set to take place in Venice, Westwood, downtown Los Angeles, Exposition Park and Woodland Hills. The Venice intersection is at Pacific and Windward Avenues.

The new diagonal crosswalks will be installed near schools, universities and major congested intersections throughout the city. The first ten crosswalks are expected to be completed by March.

“Today, we are going to cut corners and allow pedestrians to get to their destinations quicker and safer,” Villaraigosa said at the conference. “This new diagonal crosswalk initiative was developed in order to help eliminate traffic congestion on streets and to also keep pedestrians safe.”

The city’s intersections will be re-striped and marked with “Diagonal Crossing OK” signs. Through this new program, vehicles will not be permitted to turn right on a red signal unless there are no pedestrians present and pedestrians will not be permitted to cross a street when there is a green signal for motor vehicle traffic to proceed.

Instead, traffic signals will be programmed with all-inclusive “pedestrian only” signal timing, permitting pedestrians to cross the intersection in all directions, while all motorists are given stop signals.

“L.A. is a city known for being on the go and the new diagonal crosswalks will eliminate the wait and definitely keep us moving,” said Villaraigosa.

City officials said the measure will help decrease the number of pedestrian-vehicle accidents, decrease traffic congestion and allow traffic to flow more smoothly in these areas.

“Every eight minutes, a pedestrian is injured in a traffic accident, and every 111 minutes a pedestrian is killed in a traffic accident,” the mayor said, citing nationwide figures.

“These numbers hit home in Los Angeles, and as a city that puts safety first, it is our fundamental responsibility to keep everyone safe — motorists and pedestrians alike.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Association and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, nearly 5,000 pedestrians are killed and another 64,000 are injured in motor vehicle accidents every year.