The City has installed a new type of traffic signal - a HAWK (High-intensity Activated Cross Walk) at 260 Union. The HAWK makes it easier for pedestrians to cross busy Union Blvd. to access both businesses and the Federal Center light rail station. It also minimizes traffic delays.
Watch a video explaining HAWK
To drivers, the signal looks like a triangular arrangement of traditional traffic lights. If a pedestrian presses the walk button, the lower light will flash yellow, alerting drivers that someone wants to cross. The flashing yellow light will then turn a solid yellow color to warn drivers to slow down and get ready to stop.
Next, the top two lights will turn red, requiring cars to stop. After four seconds, the red lights will flash indicating that drivers may proceed after stopping if there are no pedestrians in their lane.
When there are no pedestrians present, the HAWK signal is not lit. Check out the Quick Links on the right side of this page for a diagram that clarifies the sequence of lights that you will see if you are driving. There, you will also see the messages shown to pedestrians.
Use of the HAWK system is common in Europe and since its introduction in the United States, studies have shown that it results in a decrease in pedestrian-related accidents.
Part of the Union Blvd. Corridor Urban Design Plan, the HAWK system became operational in mid-March. It was funded by FASTER (Funding Advancement for Surface Transportation & Economic Recovery), a state program to improve highway safety.
Image and Quick Links courtesy of State of Rhode Island Department of Transportation