Resolution Asking DDOT to Study Implementing Different

Methods for Programming HAWK Lights

Whereas, ANC3E has been supportive of HAWK (High Intensity Activated Crosswalk) signals, supporting installations of them at six locations[1] within the ANC;

Whereas, the city has committed to eliminating fatalities and serious injuries to travelers as part of its Vision Zero Initiative[2]and cites installation of HAWK signals as an important element in realizing that goal as well as the collection and analysis of data in order to inform its strategies and process;

Whereas, the HAWK signal is a relatively recent addition to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (MUTCD)[3] and thus their installation, programming and operation might be adjusted as experience dictates in line with collected data and professional engineering analysis;

Whereas, the HAWK operation, as described in the MUTCD, consists of six stages, the second to last being flashing red lights that accompany a pedestrian countdown timer[4];

Whereas, the location and circumstances of HAWK lights might suggest different configurations or even a slightly different programming of the lights to aid pedestrians and to make unmistakably clear to both motorists and pedestrians when it is safe to cross and when it is safe for motorists to move through a HAWK location. HAWK signals are programmed differently as evidenced by the MDOT HAWK at Willard Avenue and The Hills Plaza in Friendship Heights which operates with a flashing red/red cycle and a pedestrian countdown of 20 synchronized with the red light. This seems to convey to both motorists and pedestrians a much clearer signal of when it is safe to walk and drive. In fact, applying a consistent programming cycle would seem to benefit all installations; 

Whereas, the location and circumstances of HAWK installations might suggest improvements in pedestrian safety by coordinating their operation with other traffic elements, prioritizing pedestrian safety over vehicular convenience;

Whereas, the location at 45th and Massachusetts might benefit from such timing and programming;

Now therefore be it resolved,

  1. For the reasons detailed above, ANC 3E asks DDOT to study implementing different methods for programming HAWK Lights focusing specifically on 
    1. Prioritizing pedestrian safety over vehicular convenience
    2. Collecting of data on the operation of HAWKs in order to find opportunities for improvement
    3. The countdown signal and its relation to the flashing red stage of the cycle vis-à-vis the expected behaviors of both motorists and pedestrians as well as the length of time it takes to cross a road, taking notice of the programming of the MDOT HAWK as a potential test case
    4. Programming HAWKs in concert with other traffic devices, such as stoplights, to improve pedestrian safety especially on busy arterials
  2. In studying these issues, that DDOT include the ANC and members of the community in their discussions

The resolution passed by a vote of X – X – X at a properly noticed meeting held on January 13th, 2022 at which a quorum was present (A quorum constituting 3 out of 5 Commissioners), with Commissioners Bender, Cohen, McHugh, Hall, and Quinn in attendance (5 Commissioners present).


ANC 3EBy Jonathan Bender, Chairperson

[1] Wisconsin and Veazey, Wisconsin and Ingomar, Massachusetts and 45th, proposed Massachusetts between 49th and 48th, proposed Nebraska and 41st. Reno and Ingomar