Forget the Flags – Chevy Chase is Getting a HAWK System for Pedestrians

by Prince Of Petworth April 29, 2013 at 3:15 pm 17 Comments


Remember the pedestrian flags for crossing Connecticut Ave in Chevy Chase? How’s this for an upgrade? From a press release:

Mayor Vincent C. Gray and representatives from the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) will demonstrate how a newly installed pedestrian HAWK signal (High-Intensity Activated crossWalK) works and discuss where other HAWK signals will be installed to make the District a safer and more walkable city.

WHERE: Connecticut Avenue and Northampton Street NW

BACKGROUND: The HAWK signal is designed to help pedestrians safely cross busy streets. While it appears differently to motorists, for pedestrians, this signal operates similar to other push-button-activated traffic signals in the District. It stops traffic with a red signal, allowing pedestrians to cross with a walk display. At certain locations, the signal can detect the presence of pedestrians waiting to cross and automatically activate.

Example of a HAWK system courtesy of DDOT

  • I’d rather get hit than wave a flag.

  • They have one of these on Connecticut just south of downtown Kensington. It only changes to red when someone needs to cross. There’s a church (or maybe a temple) there and it’s very helpful to safely allow pedestrians to cross a street that is otherwise 4 lanes of very busy traffic.

    • It’s good they installed this automatic pedestrian protection device… They are unsocialized with the ways of the world and need protection, and do not know how to look both ways and wait for a cross signal before they walk into the road… Tens of lives will be spared while road rage multiplies!

      Seriously though, Connecticut road form Gtown to Bethezda MD is and always has been a cop money ticket trap. I avoid it like the plague.

  • Andy

    They just installed one of these on 16th St just before Silver Spring. Me and the person next to me were confused what was going on and didn’t go when we apparently could have.

    But if there is one place that NEEDS this is perhaps in front of the Woodner on 16th St. NO ONE walks to Spring Rd to cross the street instead crossing at Spring Pl or just South of it and people dodge traffic constantly through out the day.

    • Becky

      Yep — it’s at Jonquil and 16th. I saw it getting installed and thought it was another speed camera coming, but I’m glad it’s this!

      I didn’t find it confusing despite that it’s not quite like a regular light — it’s solid red, then flashing red like a four-way stop sign occasionally has, then totally off. It’s a great spot for one, as there’s a crosswalk to connect to the park/rec field just off 16th on Jonquil. Cars just fly by there so maybe this’ll help.

  • If only there were actual laws, already on the books on the ways drivers must behave around those using their own two feet…..

    • Becky

      If only drivers obeyed such laws! It’s pretty dangerous to assert your pedestrian rights at the speeds people go on these city arteries. I’d rather has this than cops spending time trying to get drivers to stop for pedestrians, which they clearly can’t do in any large way.

      • +1. Drivers are unlikely to flat-out ignore a red light, whereas many don’t bother to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks.

        There ought to be more of these.

  • The intersection of 15th NW and Corcoran St absolutely needs one of these. It’s a crosswalk without any sign indicated to drivers, and they are typically going well over the speed limit by the time they’ve left Q St (or worse come straight from P St) and will often try to speed up to avoid stopping for pedestrians. I’ve been nearly hit dozens of times because I’m one of those people who walks out in the street whether you’re deciding to stop or not.

    • Justin S

      I 2nd the need for more of these, both on 15th St, and definitely at any of the crosswalks on Florida Ave… they feel more like gauntlets than safe places to cross.

  • Anonymous

    I was at the Uptown in Cleveland Park last week and it looks like they are putting one there too. It is really needed with all the jaywalking that goes on on in the middle of that long block.

    The one on 16th street sort of confuses me, I drive on that street every day and I have never seen anyone who needed to cross the street right there.

    The could use these in Cap Hill too, lots of the intersections near Lincoln park are without stop signs.

  • adam

    so now i have to waive a flag in the air when i cross the street?

  • The hell with flags – how about flamethrowers?

    • adam


  • Anonymous

    Maybe they should hire a full time crossing guard.

    • Los

      If the crossing guards could levy a fine $0.99 every time a car failed to yield to a pedestrian on a crosswalk, we could pay off the Federal Debt in about a week and a half.

  • Anonymous

    that’s the worst acronym ever. Should be HIAC not HAWK. I guess HAWK sounds cooler?


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