Drivers confused by Snoqualmie’s new HAWK signal: you can proceed on flashing red if safe to do so

Snoqualmie’s first HAWK crosswalk signal at the intersection of Snoqualmie Parkway and Fisher Ave went active a few months ago, but it appears drivers may still need a little more info about this new pedestrian-activated crossing signal.

This signal only activate when pedestrians need to cross. Otherwise it is dark. BUT, drivers do NOT have to wait through the whole flashing red light and for the signal to go dark again before legally being allowed to proceed. But they do need to make sure it is safe to proceed.

Case in point: I was using the new HAWK crossing signal recently. I pushed the button and waited for the new fancy signal to do its thing. The dark signal activated. It flashed yellow to warn cars to stop. Then it went to solid yellow to warn drivers it was about to turn solid red. It was at this point a stopped driver honked and me, seemingly wanting me to enter the crosswalk and get moving. BUT, I hadn’t entered yet because the crosswalk still hadn’t displayed ‘WALK’ for us, nor had the light for cars turned red yet. The solid red is timed with the pedestrian ‘walk’ sign.

Mr/Mrs Driver: I was just obeying the crosswalk sign. Once it said ‘walk’ – a few seconds after you honked – we entered the crosswalk.

We were about half way across the large roadway when the ‘Don’t Walk’ sign started flashing at us. At this point, pedestrians are NOT supposed to enter the crosswalk, and no one did. This is also when the HAWK red light goes to flashing red, which mean drivers can proceed with caution.

Five to six cars stopped (across all lanes of the parkway) at the HAWK signal while we crossed. All of them stayed put while the light went from solid red to flashing red and the signal went dark again. This is where the confusion lies.

That car that honked was closest to us when we entered the crosswalk. As soon as the light was flashing red and they checked to ensure pedestrians (and other vehicles) were well clear of them, they were free to go. Even if the light was still flashing red. Same goes for the other 5 or so stopped vehicles at the intersection. They all did not have to wait to go until the signal was dark again, if we were clear of them.

This YouTube video below from the City of Snoqualmie website explains rules of a HAWK signal crosswalk and also might help clear up any confusion. Note – the city website does not detail when cars can proceed on the flashing red, but the video does.

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  • Danna is correct. A flashing red is to be treated just like a stop sign. See RCW 46.61.065. So, when the light starts flashing red, since you have already stopped, you may proceed if it is safe to do so.

  • Of course, vehicles need to STOP when the RED light comes on and pedestrians start to cross the street. The last two weekends vehicles completely failed to stop on RED when I was crossing the parkway with my dog at this intersection. They didn’t even slow down. They ignored the light altogether. It was frightening to say the least.

  • I have also seen cars not stop for the solid red light. They didn’t even slow down. The city needs to realize that this crosswalk is very unsafe because it gives pedestrians a false sense of security. The city’s lack of concern for the safety of our children is disturbing.

  • Living Snoqualmie