HAWK Beacon

A HAWK beacon (High-Intensity Activated crossWalK beacon) is a traffic signal used to stop road traffic and allow pedestrians to cross safely. It is officially known as a "pedestrian hybrid beacon". The purpose of a HAWK beacon is to allow protected pedestrian crossings, stopping road traffic only as needed. Research has shown motorists' compliance with the HAWK beacon at up to 97%, higher than with traditional un-signaled crossings.

The design of the HAWK beacon was imported from Europe, where the configuration has been used at railway level crossings, and was adapted in America for the purpose of pedestrian crossings.

Until December 2009, the HAWK beacon was categorized as an experimental device in the United States. Highway agencies wishing to use a HAWK signal were required to obtain approval from the Federal Highway Administration, as well as collect and submit data on the effectiveness of the device. The first beacon was developed in Tucson, Arizona by Transportation Administrator R. B. Nassi, P.E., Ph.D., and installed in 2000. The bird name HAWK was suggested by his wife to continue the tradition of naming pedestrian crossings (as in the United Kingdom) with bird names. It was included in the 2009 edition of the US Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices as the "pedestrian hybrid beacon."

The vehicular signal faces suspended above the roadway have two round red lenses side-by-side, above a single yellow lens. There must be at least two HAWK beacons facing each vehicular approach to the crossing. Unlike an ordinary traffic signal, the HAWK beacon only lights when activated by a pedestrian who wishes to cross. Generally, activation is by a push-button. The HAWK beacon first flashes yellow, then displays steady yellow, and finally steady red over a period of several seconds. Pedestrian signal heads at either end of the crosswalk display the upraised hand (don't walk) signal until the HAWK beacon displays the steady red signal. At this time, the pedestrian heads display the walking-person (walk) indication.

As at conventional signalized crossings, the pedestrian signals display flashing "don't walk" indications when typical pedestrians no longer have enough time to cross before the HAWK beacon releases cross traffic. At the same time as the "don't walk" indication, the HAWK beacon displays a flashing red indication to vehicular traffic (the equivalent of a stop sign, indicating that vehicles on the roadway must stop), and may proceed after yielding to pedestrians in the crosswalk. When vehicle traffic is about to restart, the pedestrian signal goes to steady "don't walk". Then, the HAWK beacon goes dark and the pedestrian signal remains in "don't walk" mode until the signal is activated by another pedestrian.

A HAWK beacon is generally used only for crosswalks; however, it may also be applied to crossings on multi-use paths. A HAWK beacon activated by bicyclists is under consideration, but there are some conceptual difficulties with this application.

Famous quotes containing the words beacon and/or hawk:

    I am cozily ensconced in the balcony of my face
    Looking out over the whole darn countryside, a beacon of satisfaction
    I am. I’ll not trade places with a king. Here I am then, continuing but ever beginning
    My perennial voyage....
    John Ashbery (b. 1927)

    Instead of the scream of a fish hawk scaring the fishes, is heard the whistle of the steam-engine, arousing a country to its progress.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)