Sunday, February 15, 2015

It's time for Delaware's 3rd HAWK signal. Here's where.

Correction: As of 2015, two HAWKs have been installed in Delaware; one in Newark, the other in Dover.

5 years ago, DelDOT installed the first HAWK pedestrian beacon in Delaware. HAWK stands for High-intensity Activated crossWalK. Students and faculty at the University of Delaware's Webb Farm now find it much safer and easier to cross Route 72, which is a typical suburban arterial highway that crosses N-S through Newark. This HAWK was installed as a joint partnership between the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) and the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences.

Unfortunately, the Route 72 location remains only the second State, 5 years running. Clearly, there are other locations that would benefit greatly from a HAWK. One of those is White Clay Creek State Park, where a striped crosswalk is the only facility available for the many park visitors that regularly cross between the Judge Morris Estate and Middle Run Valley.

As can be expected, Senator Karen Peterson - a best friend to walkers and bicyclists - has taken up the effort. Karen is putting safety first by asking DelDOT for Delaware's third HAWK signal beacon at this location.

Will they use (lack of) funding as an excuse? Bike Delaware has made it clear that $30 million has been set aside in the last few years for trails and pathways. Let's not forget that safely crossing arterial roads is a key component in any off-road facility.



Above: To the right is the entrance to White Clay Creek State Park. A striped crosswalk is the only marked infrastructure that connects the Judge Morris Estate to Middle Run Valley Park. Many park visitors make the crossing, which include hikers and mountain bicyclists.



The #1 reason for the HAWK is safety. Getting people across safely! If DelDOT needed pedestrian volume to justify a HAWK, they wouldn't have put this one (above) on Route 72 to cross students between farm fields, since most of the day no one uses it.



The HAWK is the ideal device for low to medium volume mid-block crosswalks, but high volume might justify the standard yellow-red-green traffic light with button activation. Above is the one on Delaware Ave in Newark at the Pomeroy Trail crossing, which works exceptionally well using "hot response" technology.

Check out DelDOT's brochure on the HAWK beacon.

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