Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon

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The "HAWK"

On June 22, 2010, the City Council approved a Resolution authorizing staff to submit grant applications for State Safe Routes to School (SR2S) funding for pedestrian safety project improvements that benefit Montgomery Elementary School. The specific location of the project would be in the vicinity of the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Montgomery Street.

On October 20, 2010, City staff received a letter from Caltrans stating that the City of Chula Vista had been awarded $165,780 in SR2S grant funds. On December 14, 2010, the City Council adopted a Resolution accepting the $165,780 in SR2S funds and programming a new project in the FY 2011-12 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) with $18,420 matching funds from the City’s TransNet Fund.

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Originally, the proposed scope of work consisted of the installation of mid-block crossing with flashing beacons similar to the ones the City installed along Fourth Avenue. Often these mid-block crossing locations do not meet engineering standards for installation of a conventional traffic signal so the City investigated other alternatives beside the flashing beacons that would provide higher rate of driver compliance.

A new type of traffic signal device, pedestrian beacon with high-intensity activated (also known in another states as HAWK) signaling system, have been used safely and successfully in a number of cities across the country for several years but not in California. ‘HAWK’ is an acronym for high intensity activated crosswalk. The pedestrian hybrid beacon, which is similar to the HAWK traffic signal device, had been approved in the FHWA and other states’ Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devises (MUTCD) but not in CA. On January 13, 2012, CA adopted new MUTCD, which includes the pedestrian hybrid beacon signal. The pedestrian hybrid beacon signal is now an MUTCD approved device.

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On February 5, 2013, the City Council adopted a resolution to accept bids and award contract for the installation and construction of a “pedestrian hybrid beacon signal” in the vicinity Fourth Avenue and Montgomery Street Intersection in the City of Chula Vista. This will be the first of its kind in California.

What is a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon?

The Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon system looks a bit different from other pedestrian signals, but brings a higher rate of compliance on stopping traffic so pedestrians can cross much more safely.  The Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon crossing system is technically a "beacon" in that it remains dark over the traffic lanes unless a pedestrian pushes the crossing button.  The Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon signal is an important safety tool because it includes a RED signal and early studies have shown up to 97% driver compliance, which is a better compliance rate by drivers than other devices at pedestrian crossings.

The Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon crosswalk signal uses traditional traffic and pedestrian signal heads but in a different configuration. It includes a sign instructing motorists to "stop on red" and a "pedestrian crossing" overhead sign.

Example of a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon Crosswalk Signal:

 

How does a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon Sequence work?

When a pedestrian presses the button, drivers will see a FLASHING CIRCULAR YELLOW, indicating that they should reduce their speed and be prepared to stop for a pedestrian in the crosswalk.   The FLASHING YELLOW is followed by a SOLID YELLOW and then by a SOLID RED, requiring traffic to STOP at the stop bar.  After the SOLID RED, the pedestrian will get a WALK signal and a countdown head will show the remaining time to cross the street.  At the end of the WALK signal, the pedestrian sees a FLASHING DON’T WALK signal and ALTERNATING FLASHING RED before going dark (not illuminated).  The motorist sees an SOLID RED light through the entire pedestrian crossing period that lasts for a while before going dark again (not illuminated), completing the pedestrian crossing cycle and traffic flow continues as normal.  In school zones, drivers must wait until the children and crossing guard are completely out of the crossing before proceeding. 

Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon System Sequence:

  1. Traffic signal dark/Don't walk is active
  2. Pedestrian push button activated
  3. Flashing yellow begins
  4. Solid yellow
  5. All red prior to walk indication
  6. Walk indication with Countdown
  7. Flashing Don't Walk/Flashing red traffic signal
  8. Dark signal/Don't Walk

Schematic of the phasing sequence of the Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon Signal

 Figure 4F-3 

Image from California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices Manual (MUTCD)

What are the advantages of a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon?

The Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon signal is an important safety tool because it includes a RED signal and early studies have shown up to 97% driver compliance, which is a better compliance rate by drivers than other devices at mid-block pedestrian crossings.

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