Pedestrians were shaving precious seconds off their crossing time at Toronto's first scramble intersection Thursday.

The busy juncture at Yonge and Dundas Streets now gives priority to pedestrians, allowing them to crisscross in any direction, even diagonally, once traffic lights turn red for cars.

Traffic flows normally for two cycles, before stopping in all directions. Walkers have 31 seconds to cross any which they please.

"It's awesome," one pedestrian told CTV Toronto.

"I'm gonna do this the rest of the day in fact," another said.

As city councilor Kyle Rae ambled through the intersection, he told CTV Toronto that "it's a refocusing of priorities to pedestrians."

It's a move to improve pedestrian safety, he said.

"Yonge and Dundas is one of the busiest intersections in the city of Toronto," Rae, whose ward includes the intersection, said in a statement. "But with the introduction of an exclusive right-of-way for pedestrians, everyone can feel more confident of making it through the intersection safely."

In general, twice as many pedestrians than cars move through the intersection at any given time.

New York, San Francisco, Miami, Tokyo and Auckland have employed pedestrian right-of-way systems for years.

They are also known as scramble phases or scramble corners, as well as the "Barnes Dance," so named for Henry Barnes, the American traffic engineer who is credited with first developing the system.

The city will employ traffic assistants on site to help pedestrians acclimatize to the new system. There are plans to adjust the timing of lights so pedestrians have enough time to cross, and enhance the signals that assist the visually impaired.

The $60,000 pilot project is just the beginning, officials say. If Torontonians take to the stop-light scramble, it may be added to other busy intersections such as Yonge and Bloor Streets, Bay and Bloor Streets and Bay and Dundas Streets.

The new feet-first approach to crossing the street is part of the city's plan to develop a long-term sustainable transportation strategy for Toronto.

With a report from CTV Toronto's Matet Nebres