Safer crosswalks with HAWKs

In June of 2019, Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) will improve two crosswalks on Grandview Parkway by installing HAWK signals at Elmwood Ave. and Hall St. Their official annuncment was released on May 22 and includes instructions on how to use them similar to the information below.

HAWK is an acronym for High-intensity Activated crossWalK. 

Illustration of HAWK Signal, credit NACTO

HAWKs are used on wide streets with high volumes of people driving. They are also installed at busy mid-block or trail crossings. These two Traverse City locations offer both scenarios. Ideally, stroads like Grandview are not part of an urban street network, but HAWK signals can help to mitigate some of the problems in key locations.

Benefits of HAWK signals include

  • More adaptable warrants that focus on people on foot and bikes.
  • Creation of gaps in motorized traffic by requiring vehicles to stop to allow crossings.
  • Proven success with high rates of compliance (PDF).
  • Improvement of crosswalk safety and also general awareness of people on foot and bike along the route.

The crosswalk improvements will occur in early June. MDOT is informing the community that there is a learning curve and you can start learning about the new signals with informational material below.

The following handout introduces the instructions for the HAWK Signals. The major difference is the flashing yellows that instruct drivers to slow down, a solid yellow instructing them to prepare to stop, and two red lights indicating them to stop. There will also be “STOP HERE ON RED” signs that point to the stop bars in the travel lanes. The stop bars are stepped back from the crosswalk to help with blind spot issues associated with crossing two lanes of traffic.

The signals are activated by people on foot or bike by pushing a button at the base. Activation of the signal is required. If you cross without activating the cycle is is a failure to obey a traffic control device (we previously reported that wrong on this page). The HAWK will not automatically change as there is a minimum cycle time. If someone arrives right after a green cycle, there will be a wait for that minimum cycle time to elapse, which will be in the ballpark of 90 seconds. MDOT officials will monitor the timing over the inaugural season and adjust accordingly. Once they are installed, please share your experience with us here  and we will pass it on to MDOT.


The Basics

  • Location: Two HAWK Signals at Elmwood Ave. and Hall St. along Grandview Parkway. (Oak Street was considered, but the counts didn’t warrant a signal. Also of note, the in-street signs won’t be used at Oak St. Instead, yellow/green diamond crosswalk warning signs will be installed in this location.
  • Schedule: Installation is aimed at early June (poles are already in place).
  • Warning: Although as drivers we are required to stop when the Hawk is activated, when we use the crosswalk it is critical that we continue to be cautious and watch to be sure that all motorized traffic has stopped.


We are happy to field your experience with the new signals and pass those comments on to MDOT. If you would also like to contact MDOT directly, you can reach their local office at 231-941-1986.