“Ask The Chief” allows readers access to useful information about law enforcement issues in Red Wing. This communication tool has been developed to enhance community policing efforts by providing residents and visitors with the opportunity to ask questions about local laws, programs and the department in general.

Submit your question to askthe.policechief@ci.red-wing.mn.us.

Q: Could you write a post about the cross walk on Highway 61 by Kwik Trip and how the rules work. The signs say that you can go when the red lights are flashing after you have stopped; I did that today and saw the pedestrian was safely across so I started to drive again, the guy next to me started blaring his horn and yelling at me.

A: Absolutely, I have heard of motorist confusion at this pedestrian crossing.

The crosswalk you are referring to is called a HAWK or high intensity activated crosswalk, which was developed by Tucson, Ariz., in 2004 to improve pedestrian safety on busy streets. Nationwide, they are very popular at improving pedestrian safety at mid-block pedestrian crossings on busy streets and highways.

A pedestrian waiting to cross the street, activates the HAWK system by pressing the button located near the crosswalk, this activates the yellow flashing lights, notifying motorists that the light will be turning solid red. Once the traffic lights are solid red, motorists must come to a complete stop, and the pedestrian may then begin to cross the street.

Since pedestrians may have different levels of mobility, some may take longer to cross the street than others, therefore, the HAWK traffic lights will turn from solid red to flashing red to allow the pedestrian to safely

finish crossing the street. This flashing red indicates that if your lane of traffic is still obstructed by the pedestrian, you must remain stopped and wait for your lane of traffic to clear.

The HAWK flashing red light, has the same requirements as other flashing red traffic lights, motorists must come to a stop on flashing red and only proceed when the lane of traffic is clear and it is safe to do so.

When the HAWK system is not in use and no pedestrians are present or waiting to cross, the HAWK system will be off, with no lights lit.

In short, the HAWK pedestrian crossing system lights are the same as other traffic signals:

  • solid yellow, means the light will be turning red and motorists should prepare to stop

  • solid red requires motorists to stop, and

  • flashing red indicates to stop and proceed only when your lane of traffic is clear and safe to do so.

Remember, all vehicle operators are required to “drive with due care.” Together, we create a safer Red Wing! Stay aware, stay safe!

References and resources

1. National Association of City Transportation Officials, located online at:



2. Minnesota Statute 169.14, Speed Limits, Zones and Radar, located online at: