HAWKsignalUntil a couple of years ago,
Tempe’s urban sprawl offered
little appeal to birds of the
raptor family. But that all changed with
the arrival of the now familiar HAWK
system, a cyclist- and pedestrianfriendly
signalization strategy designed
to provide safe flight to those hoping
to navigate some of the city’s more
dangerous bike and pedestrian
The unique beacon signals known
by the acronym HAWK—for Highintensity
Activated crossWalKs— have
nothing to do with birds, of course.
Installed where Tempe’s Western
Canal multi-use path intersects with
Rural Road and McClintock Drive, the
signaling system was envisioned to
make crossing easier for pedestrians,
bicyclists and other path users while
minimizing the wait time for motorists.
Each signal is designed without a green
light, remaining dark until a
user activates it.
At similar locations in west
Chandler, city officials picked
conventional signalization rather
than the HAWK system, fearing the
learning curve for those using it might
be excessive. Thus, in Chandler, the
auto-pedestrian interaction is similar
to what it would be with conventional
In Tempe, though, a bit of
contemplation may be in order for
first-time users.
Some suggestions follow for any
caught in that dilemma.
For pedestrians and bicyclists
When you approach the signal,
a solid “don’t walk” symbol will be
To cross the street, press the button
to activate the beacon signal;
After several seconds, the
pedestrian “walk” symbol illuminates.
When the “walk” symbol is illuminated,
you may cross the street while
watching for oncoming traffic;
After the “walk” time is complete,
a flashing “don’t walk” symbol will
appear and you should finish crossing
the street;
Do not begin to cross the street
during the flashing “don’t walk”
symbol; Once the signal cycle is complete, a solid “don’t
walk” symbol is displayed.
For motorists
The beacon signal will flash yellow for several
seconds and then change to solid yellow, letting you
know that you need to prepare to stop;
The beacon signal then turns solid red letting you
know that you must stop;
The beacon signal then displays an alternating
flashing red light;
After coming to a complete stop and making sure
there are no pedestrians in the crosswalk, you are
then allowed to proceed through the crossing even
though the beacon signal is flashing red;
Once the pedestrian is safely through the

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