In an effort to improve public safety and reduce pedestrian-involved accidents, the City of Cathedral City has installed two new High-intensity Activated crossWalK (HAWK) pedestrian traffic signals on Dinah Shore Drive at Via De Anza and at Linda Way. The HAWK crosswalk system provides pedestrians with a significantly safer path of travel to and from the Marketplace Shopping Center and Cathedral City High School (CCHS) while enhancing the pedestrian traffic signaling for motorists.
The HAWK system is relatively new to California and according to the Federal Highway Administration, the HAWK System works in the following manner:
The HAWK beacon is not illuminated until it is activated by a pedestrian, triggering the warning flashing yellow lens on the major street. After a set amount of time, the indication changes to a solid yellow light to inform drivers to prepare to stop. The beacon then displays a dual solid red light to drivers on the major street and a walking person symbol to pedestrians. At the conclusion of the walk phase, the beacon displays an alternating flashing red light, and pedestrians are shown an upraised hand symbol with a countdown display informing them of the time left to cross. During the alternating flashing red lights, drivers can proceed after coming to a full stop and checking that pedestrians have already crossed their lane of travel. Each successive driver is legally required to come to a full stop before proceeding during the alternating flashing red phase.
The alternating flashing red phase allows the driver delay to match the actual crossing needs of the pedestrian. Drivers can proceed with a stop-and-go operation during the flashing red phase if a pedestrian walks faster than the assumed walking speed and clears the lanes or roadway, as appropriate. If pedestrians need more time, then the drivers remain stopped until they finish crossing. The ability to balance the needs of the pedestrians with driver delay is a valuable component of the HAWK treatment. Concerns have been expressed regarding driver behavior and understanding of the dark phase (not illuminated) and the flashing red phase. Experiences in Tucson, AZ, have demonstrated that, with proper education and with experience, drivers understand when they should stop and when they should resume travel. The city has conducted public campaigns and increased enforcement to teach and encourage appropriate driver and pedestrian behavior at HAWK crossings as well as at all pedestrian crossings.
Besides the new HAWK systems, the City added new ADA compliant curb ramps and median breaks as well as solar powered advance flashing warning signs. Funding for the $398,000 project came from voter approved Measure A Funds, Transportation Uniform Mitigation Fees (TUMF), and the City Traffic Safety Funds.
The new HAWK traffic signals are expected to be fully operational on or before August 7, 2019 for the first days of school after the summer break.
An informative video about the HAWK system can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_rym0bYINU.