19 Solutions Team: New plan to cut down on pedestrian accidents

HAWK Traffic Signal Just Activated in University Circle
Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 5:50 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -The numbers from Cleveland Police are troubling. So far this year, 133 people have been hit by a car in our city. Eight of those people died, and thirty were seriously hurt.

Pause to think for a moment: Someone simply out for a walk or a bike ride, and in an instant, life is gone or drastically changed.

But what if some fairly simple solutions could save lives?

Take University Circle, for example. It’s a great spot to walk around with the museums, bike paths, and Case Western Reserve University.

But did you know an average of 20 people are hit by cars in that neighborhood every year? So far this year, 12 incidents have been reported, with another 15 reported close calls as well.

“Truly even one pedestrian getting hit is too many,” says Becky Voldrich of University Circle Inc., the non-profit tracking those numbers. She said they’re working hard with the City of Cleveland to change them.

Just Monday, a HAWK, or High Intensity Activated Crosswalk, was officially turned on at East 105th, near the Nord Family Greenway.

“Streets like East 105th that have a few extra lanes and traffic that moves at a slightly faster speed, something like this has shown to be effective at slowing traffic and better ensuring pedestrian safety,” said Voldrich.

Drivers won’t notice much, with the lights on the HAWK staying dark until a walker or biker hits the button to activate the signal.

Voldrich describes what happens next, “what they’ll see is several changes of lights. It will go through a yellow sequence first and ultimately end on a solid red and once it’s solid red, that’s the signal for traffic to stop so that people can cross the street safely.”

The HAWK signal is first of its kind in Cleveland, but some surrounding communities like Lakewood and Parma Heights already have them in place. Officials there said they work.

“It could potentially save lives, absolutely,” says Voldrich.

A step in the right direction, towards the organization’s and the City of Cleveland’s ultimate goal to have zero pedestrian accidents by 2030.

In addition to the HAWK signal on East 105th, the city is planning to install at least three more soon.

Two of them will go up on Clifton and one more on St. Clair in the Glenville neighborhood.