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State Approves Hawk Signal for Williamsville

Williamsville, NY (WBEN) The state has approved a HAWK crossing signal along Main Street in the village of Williamsville. It should be up by this time next year.

Mayor Brian Kulpa says the H.A.W.K. signal functions differently than a regular traffic signal in that it is controlled by pedestrians, not timers, and allows pedestrians to cross safely without the safety hazards of traditional crossings. The beacons are used successfully in many states.

The signal would function much like the makeshift crosswalk on display by the Amherst Police earlier this month to deal with crowds from the busy Old Home Days festival. The system allowed for safe pedestrian crossings while still accommodating the 40,000 daily automobiles on Main Street. The signal is scheduled to be mounted in front of the Williamsville Branch Library.

The village has worked cooperatively with the DOT to design the $3 million Picture Main Street plan, which is currently in the design phase. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2015.

A HAWK beacon (High-Intensity Activated crossWalK beacon) is a traffic signal used to stop road traffic and allow pedestrians to cross safely. It is officially known as a "pedestrian hybrid beacon". Unlike an ordinary traffic signal, the HAWK beacon only lights when activated by a pedestrian who wishes to cross.
Generally, activation is by a push-button. The HAWK beacon first flashes yellow, then displays steady yellow, and finally steady red over a period of several seconds. Pedestrian signal heads at either end of the crosswalk display the upraised hand (don't walk) signal until the HAWK beacon displays the steady red signal. At this time, the pedestrian heads display the walking-person (walk) indication.
As at conventional signalized crossings, the pedestrian signals display flashing "don't walk" indications when typical pedestrians no longer have enough time to cross before the HAWK beacon releases cross traffic. At the same time as the "don't walk" indication, the HAWK beacon displays a flashing red indication to vehicular traffic (the equivalent of a stop sign, indicating that vehicles on the roadway must stop), and may proceed after yielding to pedestrians in the crosswalk. When vehicle traffic is about to restart, the pedestrian signal goes to steady "don't walk". Then, the HAWK beacon goes dark and the pedestrian signal remains in "don't walk" mode until the signal is activated by another pedestrian.

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