2019 Top 10 – #5: “HAWK” Signals Installed at Five N. Roosevelt Crosswalks

Before we bring you the Top 10 Key West Bike, Walk, Transit and Streets for People Stories of 2020 we are counting down last year’s 2019 Top 10 to refresh our memories of where we’ve been. Especially as many of the 2019 stories carry over into 2020. Each day we’ll share another story until we get to 2019’s #1 on December 18. THEN we’ll build on that and begin counting down 2020’s Top 10 till the end of the year. We hope you enjoy our 2019 Recap and our new 2020 stories throughout December. Thank you.

By Chris Hamilton; Friday, December 27, 2019

Two years after they were installed and with City officials demanding safety action for seemingly every day during those same two years, the five mid-block crosswalks along N. Roosevelt Boulevard were finally signalized, making it safer for both drivers and pedestrians. When the crosswalk initially went in, flashing yellow lights were installed to alert drivers of the crosswalk’s whereabouts. But it was confusing for both pedestrians’ and drivers. Often a car would stop in one lane, while the other lane kept going, creating havoc for someone trying to cross. Drivers who stopped risked getting rear-ended by unsuspecting cars behind them. Everyone agreed red lights were needed, but since this wasn’t standard protocol – yet – for FDOT, City officials had to scream and protest. 

It worked. FDOT relented and completed the six-month, $1.6 million project in October. “HAWK” or High-intensity Activate Crosswalks are always green for vehicles, until a pedestrian pushes the button and activates the crosswalk. Drivers get a flashing yellow and then red so a pedestrian can cross. As the pedestrian finishes, the solid red flashes red to let drivers know they can go once the intersection is clear and then it returns to green. People in vehicles seem to have adapted quickly. Pedestrians have been a bit slower to realize they need to push the button to activate the system, however, everyone agrees this is better and safer for all.

As a side note, the crosswalks themselves created a lot of controversy that needs to be pushed back on. It was often heard that pedestrians should just go to the next signalized intersection and cross there, so as not to inconvenience drivers with another potential stopping point. Even some city officials took this position, expecting people on two feet to walk another two, three or four blocks just to cross the street. In building a more walk, bike, transit friendly city we need to reverse that kind of thinking. We applaud FDOT for looking out for people on two feet by building the crosswalks, despite some opposition, and finally getting it right on the signals too. 

#6 City Implements Progressive Parking Strategies (Dec. 26)
#7 Starting the Crosstown Greenway Project (Dec. 23)
#8 Duval Street Revitalization Sought Via RFQ (Dec. 22)
#9 City Rebuilds Atlantic Boulevard Bike Path (Dec. 21)
#10 City Addresses Closing the Gap at Admiral’s Cut (Dec. 20)

Chris Hamilton
Chris Hamilton

A native of the District of Columbia, where for a couple decades+ he led the nationally renown Commuter Services unit for Arlington County, VA’s DOT, Chris has lived in Key West since 2015. He lives car-free downtown and works and volunteers for a couple non-profits.

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