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  • Writer's pictureWorld Half Full

No-wait crossing for pedestrians


Phoenix, Arizona, has been one of the worst cities in the US for car-pedestrian accidents, but as the city has been adding instant signalling at pedestrian crossings, fatalities are dropping.

The lights known as HAWKs, bring traffic to a halt and flash red as pedestrians safely cross. And there’s no waiting for the lights to change. Mailen Pankiewicz from Phoenix’s Office of Pedestrian Safety says the city has re-timed “all of our HAWK signals, so they come on the moment the button is pushed, and pedestrians don't have to wait for the signal to activate.”

“These particular pieces of infrastructure have what we call a crash reduction factor of 60%. They always reduce crashes at the locations where we place them,” she adds.

The city began installing HAWKs in 2007 and has since installed 66 of them in busy areas.

In one location on 35th Avenue, for instance, a HAWK was installed following several pedestrian deaths there in 2018. Three people were killed on this short stretch in three separate pedestrian crashes in just over a month.

“We saw what we call a crash pattern,” says Pankiewicz. “Since the signal has been installed at this location, we have not had any fatalities or serious injuries.”

A 2018 City of Phoenix report found just 3% of crashes citywide involved pedestrians, but they resulted in half of overall crash deaths. As more HAWKS are being installed, Phoenix is reporting fewer pedestrian crash deaths, down from 104 fatalities in 2018, to 72 in 2019, to 69 in 2020.

Next year Phoenix plans to start work on three new pedestrian-activated signals, adding raised medians, installing LED street lighting, and rebuilding signals to modern standards.

TOP HAWK street crossing at 16th Street and Park Lane, Phoenix, Arizona

| WATCH a video on the HAWK pedestrian crossing

We re-timed all of our HAWK signals, so they come on the moment the button is pushed so pedestrians don't have to wait for the signal to activate.

Mailen Pankiewicz

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