Tactics

Pedestrian Hybrid or HAWK Beacon

The pedestrian hybrid beacon, or High intensity Activated crosswalk, (HAWK), is a pedestrian-activated warning device for mid-block pedestrian crossings. The beacon, mounted above or beside the road, consists of two red lenses above a single yellow lens. The beacon head is unlit until a pedestrian pushes a button, which causes the beacon to illuminate a brief flashing and steady yellow interval, then a steady red indication to drivers. A pedestrian signal then indicates it is safe for pedestrians to cross while traffic is stopped. When the pedestrian signal starts flashing at the end of the crossing interval, the beacon displays alternating flashing red lights to drivers, letting them know their red light is about to end.

Guidance
  • Conduct public-outreach campaigns to teach pedestrians and drivers how to use and react to the signal
  • Install accessible pedestrian signals so the crossing is accessible to pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired
Benefits
  • Provides stop control at crossings that typically don’t meet signal-warrant requirements
  • Improves vehicle traffic flow through the alternating red signal heads, which signals vehicles to proceed once the pedestrian has cleared the travel lane
  • Reduces pedestrian crashes by up to 69%
  • Reduces total roadway crashes up to 29%
Considerations
  • Drivers may be unfamiliar with the new signal treatment
Where to Use It
  • Marked crosswalks at mid-block locations where:
    • Gaps in traffic are not adequate to permit pedestrians to cross
    • Vehicle speeds are too high to permit pedestrians to safely cross
    • Pedestrian wait times are excessive
    • There are nearby transit stops or schools
Professional Consensus
Examples

The FHWA is promoting widespread integration of median and pedestrian crossing islands into state practices. States that have adopted the countermeasure include:

  • Juneau, AK
  • Tucson, AZ
  • Washington DC

This material is the product of a partnership between America Walks and Sam Schwartz Engineering. Visit here for more information on the partnership.