By Bill Hendrickson
Councilmember Kevin de León led a small parade of schoolchildren from St. Dominic’s across and back at Eagle Rock Boulevard and Merton Avenue this morning, demonstrating Eagle Rock’s new, state-of-the-art HAWK pedestrian crossing system.
The HAWK – which stands for High Intensity Activated Crosswalk – performed as advertised: When the pedestrian button is pushed, a flashing yellow light progresses to solid yellow and then to solid red, warning motorists to slow down, begin to stop and stop. After allowing time for pedestrians to cross, the light toggles red, permitting stopped cars to proceed as long as the intersection is clear of pedestrians. The following cars approach the blinking red light in the same way as a STOP sign until the signal goes dark again.
“This will create a safer Eagle Rock Bouelvard,” said De León.
The HAWK in Eagle Rock is the sixth to be installed in Los Angeles. The first was installed nearly two years ago at 6th Street and Spaulding Avenue in the Miracle Mile neighborhood.
The HAWK is considered an improvement over blinking yellow pedestrian safety lights, which just don’t have the power to stop cars the way red lights do.
De León said he hopes to bring the HAWK to other neighborhoods in Council District 14 that have suffered pedestrian-involved crashes, such as El Sereno and Boyle Heights
The Eagle Rock HAWK was funded through the grant for Take Back the Boulevard, a street safety and beautification initiative led by The Eagle Rock Association (TERA) and carried out currently by StreetsLA, the city department formerly known as the Bureau of Street Services.
“Traffic calming is a good thing,” said Kevin Mozze, Managing Director of Streets LA, referring to various measures to slow traffic and improve conditions for pedestrians, bicyclists and other non-motorized street users.
De León was accompanied at the HAWK unveiling by Sarah Flaherty and Sean Starkey, field deputy and legislative deputy, respectively, for De León. Many Eagle Rockers also turned out, including Greg Merideth and Michael MacDonald, president and treasurer, respectively of TERA; Michael Noguiera, president of the Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce; and Richard Loew and Michael Sweeney, president and vice-president, respectively, of the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council.