BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The City will activate its new High-Intensity Activated crossWalK pedestrian signal on Monday.
The HAWK signal is a traffic control device used to stop traffic on a roadway to allow for pedestrians to cross safely. Unlike an ordinary three-light traffic signal, the HAWK signal is activated by pedestrians and stops the vehicular road traffic only when triggered. Pedestrians using the HAWK signal can expect a very similar crosswalk experience to crossing at a traditional signalized intersection.
To activate the signal, the pedestrian presses the button on the signal pole. They will see a solid red “don’t walk” hand turn on. The symbol will turn to the “walk” symbol indicating it is the pedestrian’s turn to carefully enter the crosswalk, still using caution to watch for oncoming vehicles. They will then see the flashing “don’t walk” hand come on which allows the pedestrian to complete their crossing, but also indicates for them not to start crossing if they are not already in the crosswalk. The “don’t walk” hand will then turn solid again and will remain so until another pedestrian activates the HAWK signal again.
While the pedestrian’s perspective is similar to that of a traditional signal, the motorist’s experience will be much different. When not used, the HAWK signal is dark and motorists are allowed to drive thru the signal while still exercising caution as they would any other traditional crosswalk. When a pedestrian activates the HAWK signal, the signal will start flashing yellow, alerting the motorist to prepare to stop. It will then turn to a solid yellow, telling the motorist they must come to a complete stop. It will then turn to a solid red as the pedestrians are utilizing the crossing. The HAWK will then have the red lights alternate back and forth, which means once the motorist has stopped and all the pedestrians in the crosswalk have cleared, the motorist may continue through the intersection. If another vehicle approaches the stop bar during the red toggle phase, that vehicle must stop and make sure the crosswalk is clear before they proceeding through the intersection. Once the HAWK signal goes dark, motorists may again travel through the intersection as normal, still exercising caution and still looking out for pedestrians as they would at any pedestrian crossing.