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Crossings for cyclists, pedestrians under construction in Tucson

Posted at 8:41 PM, Jun 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-17 01:21:17-04

Two BikeHAWK signals are under construction in Tucson at Grant and Sahuara and 9th and Campbell.

"We want to make it easier for people to get across town, or get where they are going by bicycle," said Andy Bemis, the Tucson Bicycle and Pedestrian Program manager. 

BikeHAWK signals have white lines for pedestrians, and a separate green lane for cyclists. There is a curbside button so cyclists can press the signal without getting off their bikes.

There are more than 120 pedestrian HAWK signals in Tucson, and a growing number of BikeHAWKs. The seven active BikeHAWKs are at the following locations: 

- Swan and 3rd Street

- Country Club and 3rd Street

 - Broadway and Treat Avenue

- Old Nogales Highway and Olive Street

- Speedway and 10th Avenue

- Euclid and 5th Street. 

BikeHAWKs cost between $150,000 and $200,000 to build. The funding comes from the Regional Transportation Authority, Bemis said. 
 
Later this year construction will start at Fort Lowell and Treat Avenue. Bemis says they have requested funding from the RTA for an additional 3 BikeHAWKs in 2018. 
 
The BikeHAWK locations were chosen as part of the city's Bicycle Boulevard Master Plan, Bemis said. The goal is to make it easy for cyclists to travel through town on smaller, residential streets, and BikeHAWKs will allow them cross bigger roads safely.
 
"As a cyclist I bike, commute through town," Bemis said. "I use a bike for most of my trips, and I prefer to ride on residential streets away from fast-moving traffic."
 
BikeHAWKs are not activated until someone presses the button to cross. A flashing yellow light warns motorists a pedestrian is at the crossing, and solid yellow means prepare to stop. Solid red means stop so the pedestrians and cyclists can cross. When the flashing red lights turn on, the pedestrian is given a countdown timer. Drivers can proceed when the intersection is clear. 
 
The first BikeHAWK was built in Tucson in 2012. 
 
Eric Post is the president of the Greater Arizona Bicycling Association, Inc. The group has more than 900 members. 
 
Post says for the most part BikeHAWKs do make the roads safer for cyclists. In some areas of town, you have to go a long ways to find a safe place to cross, Post said.
 
While the signals do help you get across a busy street safely, Post says some cyclists forget to press the button before crossing. He says that sometimes motorists run red lights at BikeHAWKs, because they might not know how they work. 
 
Bemis wants to remind everyone on the road to be aware of their surroundings on the road. 
 
The Tucson Police Department says there were 6 pedestrian fatalities in 2015, and so far this year there have been 5. In 2015 there was one bicycle fatality, and this year so far there have been 2. 
 
According to data from the city, the top three busiest intersections for cyclists in Tucson include:
 
- Park Avenue and University Boulevard, with nearly 3,500 riders in 2015.
 
- Third Street and Campbell Avenue, with more than 2,500 riders in 2015.
 
- Second Street and Highland Avenue, with more than 2,000 in 2015.