It will be a pedestrian free-for-all next spring as Toronto council has approved scramble intersections that allow people to cross the street any which way they want.

At Tuesday's city council meeting, councillors approved the scramble concept for four busy intersections: Yonge and Bloor, Bay and Bloor, Yonge and Dundas and Bay and Dundas.

Under the new system, red lights will stop traffic in all directions at once. That way, rather than crossing the street with the flow of traffic, pedestrians will be able to walk in any direction they like -- even diagonally.

"The idea is to try and separate the time when pedestrians can use intersections and when vehicles can use intersections," Bruce Zvaniga, Toronto's manager of urban traffic control systems, told on Friday before the vote.

"The expected benefit is to pedestrians in terms of safety and general comfort."

Those on foot will also be stopped in all directions when vehicles are given the green light.

But Zvaniga believes motorists will also feel safer making turns as they won't have to wait for crossing pedestrians or try to push through gaps when there are crowds of walkers.

Zvaniga said the main disadvantage with the intersections would be the longer wait times, which haven't yet been determined.

The chosen intersections were selected because they have a large volume of pedestrian traffic, well over 10,000 crossings every day, Zvaniga said.

Dundas intersections last-minute choice

At first, only the two Bloor Street intersections were chosen. But at Coun. Kyle Rae's urging, two more intersections in his ward were added during the council meeting.

The downtown councillor said more than 62,000 people cross Yonge and Dundas Streets daily. At Bay and Dundas Streets, the bus terminal and the Ryerson business building also make it an ideal spot for the scramble.

The Dundas scramble will probably start after the Bloor scramble has started because the intersections still have to be appropriately assessed by city staff.

The project will cost the city about a "couple thousand dollars per intersection, if that!" said Gary Welsh, general manager of Toronto's transportations services department.  

"There will be some signal changes and signage costs that won't cost much plus some additional line painting," he told "This is not a major cost."

The traffic plan is part of the Toronto Walking Strategy, an environmental and pedestrian-friendly strategy endorsed in the city's official plan for governing and growing Toronto.

Zvaniga estimates the test-runs would last between three to six months, unless they are deemed a terrible idea right away.