How/Why That HAWK Signal is Being Installed at Central Ave. and Texas St.

Yesterday it was a contest, but, more importantly, pretty soon it will be in place.

Having recently heard some information about installation of a HAWK signal at Central Avenue and Texas Street, BB held a “guess the location” game yesterday. Big thanks to those who participated here and via FB/Twitter, and congrats on the “winners” (who didn’t win anything except worldwide admiration and respect).

You know what’s not a game? Trying to walk across Central Avenue at Texas:

central and texas walker
Most recent Google Streetview from April of this year


central and texas walker 2
View from 2011 as another person using a “walker” tries to cross Central to the senior living center (top right)

The years of Google Streetview images for this busy intersection go back to 2007. In every single one of the twelve image sets available somebody is trying to walk either along Central or crossing Central here, often via use of assistance as shown above.

Count data recently taken by Bernalillo County at the request of County Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins back up all those Google Streetviews. Counters found the following:

9:00-10:00 AM – 25 ped crossings
12:00-1:00 PM – 35 ped crossings
4:00-5:00 PM – 43 ped crossings

The “bible” determining what “warrants” (that’s the official term used) installation of some sort of pedestrian beacon (e.g., HAWK) or complete signalized intersection is the Federal Highway Administration’s “Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices” (MUTCD). In its “Guidelines for the installation of Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons on Low-Speed Roadways (35 mph posted speed limit and less), we get the following table:

Crosswalk length = 34 ft Crosswalk length = 50 ft Crosswalk length = 72 ft Crosswalk length = 100 ft
Vehicles Per Hour Peds Per Hour Vehicles Per Hour Peds Per Hour Vehicles Per Hour Peds Per Hour Vehicles Per Hour Peds Per Hour
2000 20* 2000 20* 2000 20* 2000 20*
1750 20* 1750 20* 1750 20* 1750 20*
1500 40 1500 20* 1500 20* 1500 20*
1250 90 1250 20* 1250 20* 1250 20*
1000 190 1000 50 1000 20* 1000 20*
750 400 750 125 750 25 750 20*
500 500 350 500 120 500 30
250 250 250 500 250 250
225 225 225 225 500

* Note: 20 peds per hour applies as the lower threshold volume.


While you stare at the table above, let me remark that: 1. Central Avenue might have a posted speed limit of 35 mph at Central and Texas, but it damn sure ain’t no “Low Speed Roadway.” 2. Measuring the crosswalk length via Google gives me right at 92 feet, but I guess they used the 72 feet length portion of the table, and a vehicle count of 750 per hour, because the threshold for putting a HAWK at Central and Texas was determined to be:

25 Pedestrian crossings per peak-hour. Far fewer than the 43 observed.

Now that we better understand the technical side of what’s getting a HAWK installed at Central and Texas, it’s time to focus on what is always the more important element in any such public policy: the political will and funding to get the job done.

For that, big kudos to Commissioner Stebbins and the hard-working folks at Bernalillo County, as well as the International District community organizers who brought up the subject, and those from UNM Hospital (there’s a family/community health center at the intersection) who participated as well. Hell, thanks to everybody, including those not included in any of these mentioned groups.

Well done!

Three* closing observations. First, let’s compare Google Streetviews from a decade apart:

central and texas 2008
March 2008
central and texas 2018
March 2018

No senior living center in 2008. No family/community health center. Far less reason to walk, assisted or otherwise, and a Central Avenue speedway to match. In March 2018 and today, we still have the speedway and the crossing at Texas is 1000 feet from the closest signalized intersection at Pennsylvania and 1600 feet to the light at Wyoming and Central.

Damn straight we need a HAWK light at Central and Texas.

Meanwhile, the MUTCD threshold guidelines have guided public policy situations like this for decades, but in a City now pledged to “Vision Zero” do we really have to prove that at least 25 folks per peak-hour are trying to survive crossing Central Avenue at Texas Street to get a goddamn HAWK signal installed? Or are we really talking “Vision 24” instead of “Zero”?

Last, completed installation of a HAWK at Central and Texas puts us somewhere close to ten HAWKs around town/County. Of course, some of these are along the A.R.T. route of Central and are currently only used by wily miscreants (e.g., me) who have figured out how much faster/easier it is to cross at these HAWKs instead of the nearest signalized crosswalk. Still, we now have enough HAWK signals to start enforcing driver non-compliance, which is WAY too high (especially for a city that has pledged “Vision Zero”). Educating drivers is good, and happening on the streets through example and repetition, but ticketing those running the HAWK red is essential.

Especially at the intersection of Central Avenue and Texas Street.



*Note: I actually have a fourth observation, namely “How the Hell did the County get a HAWK installed on a City street?” but this post is already too long and explaining why would: 1. Involve addition of literally thousands of words; 2. Still wouldn’t answer the question because I myself don’t understand how. 



3 thoughts on “How/Why That HAWK Signal is Being Installed at Central Ave. and Texas St.

  1. Hi Scot,

    Another factor in installing the HAWK is that this is the location for the planned “Tiny Homes” development that the City and County are developing to assist people who are homeless. I expect this will greatly increase pedestrian traffic on Texas when it is completed (and I don’t know the target completion date).


    1. Ed: I believe the idea/process that led to this happening predates the site selection for “Tiny Homes,” but it’s always nice to have serendipity and you’re right, a busy intersection for walkers will have even more walkers in days to come.


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