Another step forward in pedestrian safety is underway in Columbus with installation of two new high-intensity pedestrian-activated walk (HAWK) traffic signals.
The first has been installed at Fifth and Lindsey streets, at the entrance of Mill Race Park. The second will be installed in October between Fifth and Eighth streets on Brown Street, where many people cross the street to walk to their jobs at Cummins Inc., the city’s largest employer.
HAWK signals were developed in the 1990s specifically for high-speed or wide-crossing conditions, to give drivers multiple cues about the potential presence of pedestrians.
The signals work a little differently than traditional crossing signals. Once activated, a progression of four signals alert drivers.
- Flashing yellow: Proceed with caution.
- Solid yellow: Prepare to stop.
- Solid red: Stop to allow pedestrians to cross.
- Flashing red: Proceed after checking to make sure no more walkers are present.
HAWK signals represent the latest in technology and safety in getting people across busy streets. Studies indicate that they reduce pedestrian accidents by 69 percent, with a 29 percent reduction in total crashes, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
That’s a significant reduction, so installing the new signals in two pedestrian-heavy areas makes sense.
The safety steps were requested by and paid for by Cummins, and are part of other measures also being taken to improve pedestrian safety. Cummins has about 3,500 employees working at seven downtown locations. Last year 15 employees were nearly hit by cars while trying to cross the street, 12 were nearly hit in 2014 and seven narrowly escaped injury in 2013.
Installing the HAWK signals isn’t just a Cummins benefit, though. They’ll help all pedestrians at those crosswalks, and the city will monitor their effectiveness for possible use at other locations, such as Washington Street near Noblitt Park, and 25th Street near Lincoln Park.
The new signals also fit well with the city’s recent efforts to improve pedestrian safety.
This summer the city focused on installing the final three of four flashing lighted signals at key pedestrian areas — the result of efforts in 2012 by former Columbus East High School student Taylor Chitty and the city engineer to secure federal funding to improve four city crossings. Chitty herself had been hit by a car in 2011 while trying to cross Marr Road to access the school’s athletic facilities near Clifty Park.
The installation of the HAWK signals is good-neighbor step by the Fortune 200 company that will benefit the entire city.