STAMFORD, Conn. -- Phil Magalnick said he didn't know what to make of the new Z-shaped crosswalk on Washington Boulevard next to the Stamford Government Center when he first tried it.
"I was totally lost back in May when I first encountered it," said Magalnick, who is legally blind. "It used to be straight across. I felt the curb, I didn't know what it was and I backed up and I was almost hit by a car."
On Friday, he was joined by local and state officials for an event to publicize the new High-Intensity Activated Crosswalk signals, or HAWK. They were installed by the Connecticut Department of Transportation on Washington Boulevard/Route 137 and allow pedestrians to cross busy streets on demand.
The new state HAWK signals and the accompanying Z-shaped crosswalk designs are new to Stamford, with two located downtown on busy Washington Boulevard.
The two new HAWK signal and Z-shaped crosswalks were installed this summer to provide safer pedestrian access to the Stamford Government Center and to Mill River Park.
The system allows pedestrians to cross on demand by pushing a button that triggers the overhead lights to flash yellow, solid yellow and then solid red, requiring motorists to stop during the pedestrian signal phase. Finally, flashing red requires motorists to stop first and then proceed after pedestrians have finished crossing. (Watch an instruction video above or on YouTube .)
Stamford is one of the first communities in Connecticut DOT with the new signals.
"This is a great first step," said Mayor David Martin, adding that many pedestrians and drivers are not fully aware of how the system operates. He's confident that will change.
"I believe drivers will eventually catch on to how it works."
The new mid-block crosswalk was installed on Washington Boulevard between Main Street and Broad Street to provide pedestrian access between the expanding Mill River Park on the west side and parking garages on the east side. An existing crosswalk and median located just south of Bell Street was reconfigured for improved pedestrian visibility. A third system was installed on Hope Street near Springdale School.
Click here for more information on the High-Intensity Activated Crosswalk (HAWK) signals at the City of Stamford website.