Simple reason, for those who like to skip to the last page of the mystery novel and just get it over with: Four seconds of initial flashing yellow versus fifteen seconds.
Now a bit of context for the simple reason…
Above is a photo of the HAWK signal at Isleta and McEwen in the South Valley. It’s quite likely you’ve never seen it, as this stretch of Isleta is less trafficked than segments further south (15k daily v. 18k), running through a relatively bucolic part of BernCo.
Compared with the other HAWK site in town at Lomas/Alvarado, with its 25k daily traffic (probably going up a notch during ART construction), six lanes versus four and general NE Heights motoring vibe (and yes, there is an subtle, yet observable difference in driving styles between the South Valley and Heights), comparing these two HAWK sites is very much apples and oranges.
But those apples and oranges aren’t the biggest reason why Isleta/McEwen rules and Lomas/Alvarado HAWK drools (not that drooling is necessarily a bad thing).
Instead, it’s the timing set on these two HAWK signals. Namely, only four seconds elapse between hitting the “beg button” at Isleta/McEwen and a solid red light. It’s a solid fifteen seconds before the light goes red at Lomas/Alvarado.
It’s only 11 seconds, but give both a shot and see if you don’t agree that those 11 seconds seem like 11 years. Yes, due to road width differences (Isleta is about 45 feet, while Lomas is 80), the entire HAWK light cycle differs, but there’s really no reason why the flashing yellow needs to be 15 seconds at Lomas. For instance, the posted speed limit is the same at both locations, 40 mph.
I rode out to Lomas/Alvarado again yesterday to try the HAWK, and, sure enough, still 15 seconds of flashing yellow. I also noticed there’s even a little hiccup of a second or two after going red before the crosswalk switches to “walk.” What made this crossing even more fun was that a motorist was behind me on Alvarado waiting to turn right onto Lomas. Being a nice motorist, s/he patiently waited behind me (I was in the way because I had to get in that position to hit the beg button) for almost 20 seconds total. Making matters worse/sillier, there was fairly scant traffic on Lomas at my Noon time ride there.
There is a certain unique discomfort that comes with the cyclist knowing they are making a motorist wait for silly reasons. The extra 11 seconds truly become geologic time in these discomforting situations.
So, the simple solution is to just knock off about 10 seconds of flashing yellow on Lomas/Alvarado. Get to the red light point. In full disclosure and fairness, I can report that I did see a motorist “run the red light” at the Isleta HAWK in one of my tests, but with no more egregiousness than we all see at any red light in Burque. We all know to wait a second or two for those cheating bastards (to put it mildly).
There are other issues with the Lomas/Alvarado HAWK. Better Burque touched on those, particularly the whole idea of a raised median and no left turns, in a previous post. Those bigger, more fundamental gripes aside, a timing fix here would be easy, inexpensive and make a big difference.
Just ask the motorist behind me during those 11
geologic epochs seconds yesterday.