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Monday, 16th January 2017
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N. Grand Ave. / Ritchie St. Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon

Why did the City install a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon at N. Grand Ave. / Ritchie St.?

A Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon was selected for this location as it provides a higher level of safety for pedestrians than other types of mid-block crossings on a busy multi-lane arterial street.  A standard traffic signal does not meet necessary warrants for installation and was therefore not an option at this location.  This location provides connectivity to non-motorized facilities, including the Grand Avenue Greenway Trail which provides a connection to the WSU campus from the west side of the City.


How does a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon work?

The Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon, also known as a HAWK signal, is a new kind of signal designed to help pedestrians’ cross busy streets without the adverse impacts of a traditional traffic signal.  While different in appearance to the driver and the pedestrian, this signal works the same as any pedestrian activated traffic signal.  It stops vehicular traffic with a red signal indication which allows the pedestrian to cross safely.  After the pedestrian crossing phase has ended, the signal facing traffic turns dark until the next pedestrian activates the signal.  This type of signal has been successfully implemented in several cities in Washington state such as Spokane, Vancouver, and Bellingham, as well as other states. Click here for a graphic explanation of the signal operation.


Side Street Traffic

HAWK signals do not have traffic signals facing side street approaches.  Any side street that is controlled by a stop sign will continue to be controlled by a stop sign once a HAWK signal is in place.  For the Grand/Ritchie HAWK signal a special “blank out” sign has been installed for side street traffic on Ritchie, which will light with the message “Crosswalk Occupied” when the HAWK signal is active.


How to use as a pedestrian

Using a HAWK signal as a pedestrian is easy.  Simply push the button and wait for the WALK signal to appear.  It may take several seconds for the signal to change, depending on the time of day.  Like any traffic signal, be sure that approaching vehicular traffic has stopped before you enter the crosswalk.  A “countdown timer” on the pedestrian signal head will show much time remains to cross the street before the HAWK signal sequence is terminated and the stopped vehicular traffic is no longer facing a red signal indication.   For a video explanation of how the signal works use the following link:



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