Walkability took another big step forward in Ann Arbor this week, with the formal dedication of the city’s first HAWK (Highintensity Activated crosswalk) signal. It’s the first of its kind to be installed on a state trunkline in Michigan.
Officials from the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the city of Ann Arbor held a street corner gathering to celebrate the innovative new pedestrian signal at the corner of I-94 Business Loop (Huron Drive) and Third/Chapin Street on the west side of downtown Ann Arbor. Celebrants in reflective orange vests emblazoned with the words “Hawk Walk 2010” inaugurated the signal with mass crossings in both directions.
A HAWK signal provides a protected pedestrian crossing as a way to increase safety. A person wishing to cross the street pushes a button to activate the signal, which then goes through a series of yellow and red sequences, requiring motorists to stop for pedestrians. When the HAWK signal goes dark, motorists can continue through the intersection until it is activated again. It also has a blinking red light that allows motorists to drive through a lane if the pedestrian has already crossed it on their way to the other side.
Before the ceremony, senior citizens who reside in a housing facility just north of the intersection were already lined up and waiting for their first opportunity to cross the busy thoroughfare near the YMCA at 400 W. Washington Street.
Improving pedestrian safety through good physical design is a key element in promoting walkability.