You may have noticed new crosswalks while traveling on some of Tampa Bay’s busier roads. These crossings are equipped with HAWK (High-intensity Activated crossWalK) beacons. Officially called “Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons,” but often referred to as “HAWKs” for short, these crosswalks are becoming a mainstream solution across Tampa Bay and throughout the U.S. for helping people cross busy roadways safely and efficiently.
HAWKs are often placed in locations where it doesn’t make sense to install to traditional three-color traffic signal. One of the many benefits of installing a HAWK crosswalk is that it can be configured to support two-stage crossings, meaning that pedestrians can activate the beacon and stop traffic in the travel lanes on their side of the street while traffic on the other side of the roadway continues to flow. When the person crossing makes it to a center refuge, typically a raised island with curbs, they can then activate the beacon for the other half of the roadway while traffic in the previously stopped lanes is then allowed to proceed. Two-stage crosswalks make it more efficient for motorists while simultaneously facilitating safer passage for people walking and bicycling.
Walk Bike Drive, an awareness campaign dedicated to improving safety outcomes on Tampa Bay’s busiest high-speed high-crash corridors, is helping spread the word about the new HAWK crosswalks to those living near roadways where HAWKs have been installed. Most recently, the Florida Department of Transportation District 7 installed HAWK crosswalks, or Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon crosswalks, on Park Boulevard in Pinellas County.