City plans to make Salt Lake’s wide streets safer for pedestrians

The new HAWK pedestrian signal directly in front of the main entrance to Utah's Hogle Zoo.  Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The new HAWK pedestrian signal directly in front of the main entrance to Utah’s Hogle Zoo. Photo by Isaac Riddle.

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker with City Transportation Director Robin Hutcheson officially unveil Tuesday morning a new High-Intensity Activated Crosswalk Beacon (HAWK) pedestrian signal at 2600 E. Sunnyside Ave. that connects the North Hogle Zoo Parking Lot to the Zoo’s main entrance.

“This is a great place for the HAWK,” Salt Lake City Transportation Director Robin Hutcheson.  “We have a lot of pedestrians crossing and on weekends there is a lot of car traffic.”

According to the City, the Hogle HAWK signal is one of over 20 projects slated for completion this year and part of an investment of nearly $3.5 million in projects happening citywide aimed it enhancing safety for pedestrians.

“Because of our wide streets and fast driving speeds, we need to invest in making the City safer for pedestrians,” said Hutcheson.

HAWK pedestrian signals originated in Tuscon Arizona in the late 1990s.   HAWK signals were developed specifically for pedestrian crossings at wide street crossings and high-speed roads, like Sunnyside Ave.

The HAWK signal uses several indicators to inform drivers when a pedestrian is crossing.  Image courtesy Salt Lake City Transportation Department.
The HAWK signal uses several indicators to inform drivers when a pedestrian is crossing. Image courtesy Salt Lake City Transportation Department.

According to the City, HAWK signals have shown to have high a compliance rate, comparable to a typical traffic signal at road intersections.  Unlike conventional traffic signals, HAWK signals only use the yellow and red signal indicators to inform cars of an active pedestrian crossing.  HAWK signal lights remain dark between uses, only illuminating when in active use.

At the pedestrian eye level, a HAWK pedestrian signal appears like any other pedestrian crossing with walk and don’t walk indicators and a numerical countdown letting pedestrians know how much time they have to cross.

For drivers, Hawk signals are different from conventional crossings.  A HAWK crossing sends drivers multiple distinct cues to indicate the potential presence of a pedestrian.

After a pedestrian activates a HAWK signal, a flashing yellow light announces the activation.  A solid yellow light appears to alert drivers to prepare to stop.   The light then switches to a solid red requiring drivers to stop.  After a brief amount of time the light switches to a flashing red allowing drivers to proceed through the signal if the pedestrian has already crossed.

Including the new crossing on Sunnyside Ave, the City plans to install eight HAWK pedestrian signals during 2015.  HAWK signals are or will be installed at or near the intersections of 1800 N. and Redwood Road, 900 W. and 600 S., Fremont Ave. and 900 West, 1300 E. and 2100 S., Main Street and 1300 S. and 800 S. and 1300 East.

“Funding public safety enhancements, and particularly those that increase pedestrian safety, is one of the wisest investments we can make as a City,” said Mayor Becker. “Incorporating new and advanced devices, like HAWK signals, as well as more traditional signage and signals, will continue to elevate the walkability of neighborhoods all over the City.”

Pedestrian improvements planned for Salt Lake in 2015.
Pedestrian improvements planned for Salt Lake in 2015.  Image courtesy Salt Lake City Transportation Division.

 

Posted by Isaac Riddle

Isaac Riddle grew up just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. He has a BA in English literature from the University of Utah and a Masters of Journalism from Temple University. Isaac has written for Next City, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Salt Lake City Weekly. Before embarking on a career in journalism, Isaac taught High School English in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Isaac is the founder of Building Salt Lake and can be reached at isaac@buildingsaltlake.com.