A new type of traffic signal was introduced in Buffalo earlier today. It’s called a HAWK signal, and it helps pedestrians to cross city streets in a safer manner. This is done by signaling to approaching cars that a pedestrian is preparing to cross the street. The initial HAWK signal has been installed on Kenmore Avenue – a street that is known for speedier traffic. The new technology is being considered the icing on the cake for the $8.5 million Kenmore Avenue Reconstruction Project. The signal can be found where the North Buffalo Rails-to-Trails path intersects with the street.
HAWK stands for “High-intensity Activated crossWalK”. The signal only stops traffic when needed – after pedestrians press crosswalk buttons.
The HAWK traffic signal does not light up until a pedestrian or cyclist pushes the button. That allows for a smoother flow of traffic. Only when the button is pushed does the signal light come on. A flashing yellow light warns the oncoming cars to be aware that someone is looking to cross – so slow down. Then the yellow light transitions to a solid state, indicating that the drivers must get ready to stop. From there, the beacon changes to solid red, which signals the drivers to stop. After that, red flashing lights appear, indicating to drivers to proceed with caution. Finally the signal lights disappear entirely until someone presses the HAWK button again. Throughout the changing of the lights, a countdown timer is present, which allows pedestrians and cyclists to monitor their allotted crossing time.
A press conference was held by Mayor Byron Brown, who was joined by Congressman Brian Higgins, State Senator Tim Kennedy, State Assembly Member Crystal Peoples Stokes, Erie County Legislator Peter Savage and University District Council Member Rasheed N.C. Wyatt. The safety advocates discussed the safety advantages of the HAWK signal (High-Intensity Activated CrossWalK).
“The HAWK signal on Kenmore Avenue will provide improved safety for pedestrians and cyclists as they exit the popular North Buffalo Rails-to-Trails,” said Mayor Brown. “This is another example of the great collaborations that are underway in Buffalo to further improve our roadway infrastructure. With city, state, and federal funds, we finished an $8.5 million investment along Kenmore Avenue, while also linking our popular North Buffalo Rails to Trails project to the Tonawanda Rails to Trails pathway. By introducing the new Hawk signal, we will further improve pedestrian safety.”
While the HAWK is similar to a regular crosswalk for pedestrians and cyclists, it is much different for area drivers, especially since it lacks a green light.
“Investments in road and trail infrastructure are providing better connectivity, encouraging economic investment and strengthening neighborhoods in Buffalo and Tonawanda,” said Congressman Higgins. “Completion of the Kenmore Avenue project along with bicycle trails and safety features build a cohesive community-friendly experience for this critical corridor between the town and the city.”
Erie County Legislator Savage stated, “I am pleased to join my partners in government as we unveil the latest improvements to Kenmore Avenue which will further enhance the connectivity of the Tonawanda and Buffalo Rails to Trails Projects for bicyclists and pedestrians in a safe way.”
Here’s how it works:
- The HAWK signal remains unlit (dark) until a pedestrian presses the crosswalk button to activate it.
- Once activated, the signal will blink yellow, cautioning drivers to slow down. Flashing yellow is followed by a solid yellow signal, then solid red, which prompts drivers to come to a complete stop.
- Once drivers have the red light, cyclists and pedestrians will be notified to cross.
- Like a normal crosswalk, pedestrians will see “walk” and “don’t walk” signals.
- Once the walk time has passed, drivers will see flashing red lights. Drivers should proceed with caution and double check that the crosswalk is clear. This is what causes confusion for many drivers.
- Then the signal will go dark, which means traffic can proceed as usual, until another pedestrian activates it.
“Infrastructure improvements and the HAWK activation on Kenmore Avenue increases walkability and public safety,” said Assembly Member Peoples-Stokes. The High-Intensity Activated CrossWalK is a traffic calming measure that will stop traffic and allow pedestrians and bicyclist to cross safely. This project is another example of partnership in government improving the quality of life for residents of the Queen City. I look forward to residents, students, and bicyclists enjoying the new improvements. “I applaud my colleagues in government on making today a reality.”