This Saturday 20 June, work starts on Nelson’s first Barnes Dance in recent times.

Don’t worry, Nelsonians won’t be forced to relive excruciating memories of school hall square dances – they will simply be able to cross the road more efficiently at the corner of Halifax and Trafalgar Streets.

A Barnes Dance is a type of crossing that allows pedestrians to cross intersections in every direction at the same time, which reduces waiting times.

Currently, pedestrians have to wait for up to two signal phases before they can cross. 

This is just one of the ways we are making Nelson’s City Centre more walkable for pedestrians as part of our City Development Strategy.

A pedestrian pushing the button at the intersection triggers the Barnes Dance phasing in the semi-automated system (SCATS), and after a short period traffic in all directions gets a red light and pedestrians can cross the street safely, no matter which light they are waiting at.

Invented in Kansas City and Vancouver in the late 1940s, the Barnes Dance is not actually named after its creator. 

Ashley Barnes was an American traffic engineer who promoted it’s widespread use. 

The phrase was coined by a reporter who wrote "Barnes has made people so happy, they're dancing in the street".

Nelson City Council’s contractor is installing the hardware this weekend, which will include countdown timers that will help pedestrians know how much time they have to cross the road. 

Once safety audits have taken place, the Barnes Dance should be operational by late June.