Bicycle Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System


The progression of a pedestrian hybrid beacon.




Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons

The City of Tucson, Arizona, developed the High intensity Activated crossWalK (HAWK) in the 1990s to assist pedestrians at numerous unsignalized locations. The HAWK signal was renamed the Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon in the 2009 MUTCD. A Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon (PHB) includes the following:

  • Overhead beacons with three sections (circular yellow signal indication centered below two horizontally aligned circular red signals) facing both directions on the major street.
  • Overhead signs labeled CROSSWALK STOP ON RED to indicate that the location is associated with a pedestrian crosswalk.
  • A marked crosswalk on the major street.
  • Pedestrian signal heads to control pedestrian crossings at the crosswalk.
  • Pedestrian detectors, such as pushbuttons.

The PHB rests dark when not in use. When a pushbutton or detector is actuated, the beacon begins with a flashing yellow light, followed by a steady yellow light, alerting drivers to slow. A steady red light requires drivers to stop and remain stopped while pedestrians and bicyclists have the right-of-way to cross the street. When the pedestrian signals display a flashing DONT WALK indication, the overhead beacon flashes red, and drivers may proceed after stopping if the crosswalk is clear. For bicyclists, a bicycle signal indication may also be added to provide specific guidance such as clearance intervals that may not be provided from the pedestrian signal.

While the PHB was developed for pedestrians, it can also be used to assist bicyclists with street crossings, particularly at locations with few sufficient gaps in traffic or where there are high bicycle and pedestrian volumes such as trail crossings. The MUTCD provides guidance on the pedestrian volume warrants, design features, and restrictions associated with the PHB. The pedestrian volume thresholds required by the MUTCD for a PHB are significantly lower than for a traffic signal, and this treatment may be installed at locations where traffic signals are not otherwise warranted.

Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons are best suited for uncontrolled crossings of multilane, higher speed or volume roadways where there is a need to provide occasional pedestrian crossings without inordinate delay to motor vehicles (i.e., school crossings, intermittent neighborhood street crossings of high volume, multilane arterials). A 2010 FHWA study indicates that a PHB reduces total crashes by 29 percent and pedestrian crashes by 69 percent.


A PHB is a special type of beacon used to warn and control traffic at an unsignalized location to assist pedestrians and bicyclists in crossing a street or highway at a marked crosswalk.


  • Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons should only be installed in conjunction with marked crosswalks and pedestrian signals.
  • Activated by pedestrian detectors, such as pushbuttons.
  • May be appropriate where traffic signals are unwarranted.
  • Can be used at corners and midblock locations.
  • Works well to counteract multiple threat crashes.
  • Have been successfully used at school crossings, parks, and senior centers.

Estimated Cost

Min. Low
Max. High
Cost Unit
# of Sources (Observations)
Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon
Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon

Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons are typically more expensive to implement and maintain than some devices, but less expensive than full traffic signals.

Safety Effects

A summary of studies that have looked at the safety effects of Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons can be found here.


To view references for this countermeasure group click here.

Case Studies