How to use the HAWK signal

Sunday, September 10, 2023

By Diane Hettrick

When you travel a short distance north on Aurora into Snohomish county, you will encounter their new pedestrian crossing beacon, the HAWK. 

There is also one on SR 104 headed to the Edmonds Bowl and ferry.

If you haven't noticed, it is because it is only activated if a pedestrian pushes the button to cross the highway.

Our previous article on the HAWK generated some discussion. This device comes with instructions.

The High-Intensity Activated Crosswalk (HAWK) signal on SR 99 north of 234th Street was activated on August 30, 2023. See our previous article.

How to use the HAWK
  1. HAWK signals operate like traffic signals and are activated with the push button which causes the signal to change to red and stop traffic, allowing pedestrians to cross the street.
  2. For drivers, the HAWK signal remains dark until activated by a pedestrian or a cyclist. Once activated, the signal goes through a series of yellow and red sequences, requiring vehicles to fully stop on a solid red light while pedestrians cross
  3. The signal concludes with a flashing red sequence, where vehicles are required to stop and proceed with caution if no pedestrians are present.
Got it?

I have some personal concerns about traffic devices that require instructions. Some years ago WSDOT was testing a similar pedestrian crossing beacon. It had eyes that moved from right to left and back again. They installed just one at 165th and Aurora, to try it out.

I encountered it late one night without having heard anything about it ahead of time. Since the statute of limitations has probably passed, I can admit now that I was so distracted staring at that weird thing in the sky that I came within a few feet of mowing down a couple of pedestrians.

I had time to brake but I was close enough to make them jump.

WSDOT ditched that signal but I think the HAWK is here to stay.


Anonymous,  September 10, 2023 at 6:18 PM  

This difference between one red light and two will confuse drivers who have not had a chance to read the instructions.

Dale Bauer

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