The City of San Luis Obispo recently activated a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon (PHB) at the intersection of Foothill Boulevard and Ferrini Road, representing the first of its kind traffic safety measure in use in San Luis Obispo County.
Construction of the PHB, also frequently called a “HAWK Beacon,” began in July. The crossing at the intersection of Foothill Boulevard and Ferrini Road was identified as the highest safe routes to school improvement priority for Pacheco and Bishop’s Peak Elementary schools. The City has already reduced traffic collisions by nearly 60 percent over the past 15 years and this project will help further City’s Vision Zero goals to eliminate fatal and severe injury crashes citywide by 2030.
A PHB is a traffic control device used to stop road traffic and allow pedestrians and bicyclists to cross safely. They are often used to improve crossings of major streets in locations where conditions do not warrant installation of a full traffic signal. For pedestrians and bicyclists, a PHB provides a similar crossing experience to a conventional traffic signal, with less disruption to vehicle traffic flows on the major street.
As this is the first PHB in the county, it is important that roadway users, particularly drivers, have an understanding of how the PHB operates. While the beacon looks similar to a traffic signal, it operates very differently.
Tips for Using a PHB as a Driver
The PHB warning beacons remain dark until activated by a pedestrian or bicyclist at the side street. Unlike a standard traffic signal, drivers are not required to stop when passing a dark beacon. Once activated, the beacons flash yellow, then steady yellow, then solid red. During the solid red phase, drivers must remain stopped while users cross from the side street. Prior to turning dark again, the beacon alternates flashing red to allow drivers to stop and proceed when clear, as they would with a stop sign.
Tips for Using a PHB as a Pedestrian or Bicyclist
PHBs operate the same as using a standard traffic signal. Activate the beacon by pressing the push button and follow the commands of the pedestrian or bike signal.
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