PHBs are pedestrian activated warning devices which help pedestrians safely cross major roadways where there isn't a traffic signal.
The beacon consists of two red lights above a single yellow light. The beacon head is "dark," or unlit, until a pedestrian activates the device. The pedestrian pushes a button that activates the beacon. After displaying brief flashing and then steady yellow light intervals, the device displays a steady red indication to drivers and a "WALK" indication to pedestrians, allowing them to cross while traffic is stopped.
The solid red light on a PHB is the same as and should be treated like a traffic signal showing a red light. Once the red light starts flashing it should be treated like a stop sign, where the driver is to stop and make sure it is clear before proceeding.
Download a how-to sheet for yourself or children here:
Anyone can make a request for a PHB by calling 3-1-1 or by clicking on the 3-1-1 icon in the upper right-hand corner of this page.
To be eligible, each request must:
Be within the city limits.
Be farther than 300 feet from an existing signal. Placing signals within 300 feet creates many traffic problems and is prohibited without just cause.
Be more than 2 years since evaluated or studied previously. If a location has been evaluated or studied within the past 2 years, it will not be re-evaluated unless a significant change to the previous traffic patterns is anticipated. For example, if a large multifamily development or large grocery store opens in the area and significantly impacts traffic at the requested location.
Be located on a roadway that is at least 3 travel lanes wide.
All PHB requests meeting these requirements are eligible for evaluation for further study. This evaluation consists of scoring each location on ten criteria. These criteria are intended to evaluate the
Difficulty for a pedestrian to cross the road.
Pedestrian needs, desires and safety history for crossing at that location.
Environmental and community issues at that location – whether a PHB is recommended as part of an adopted neighborhood, corridor or master plan or is within an Imagine Austin Center. Also considers whether the location is part of an existing or desired school route or whether it is within an Environmental Justice area.
How we rank PHB requests
Once a year in December, all current PHB requests are ranked for study. This is done by evaluating and scoring new PHB requests against the criteria listed in the PHB request evaluation form. These new requests are then ranked with older requests by this evaluation score and the top 10 locations are forwarded for further study. If a request has not been studied after two years, it will be reevaluated to determine whether it should remain on the list. In addition to these criteria, if a traffic engineer feels that a location that did not score high enough to be studied has extenuating circumstances, the engineer may identify that location for further study.
This study consists of an analysis of the intersection against guidelines established by the Federal Highway Administration. These guidelines can be found in Chapter 4F of the Texas Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (TMUTCD). As stated in the TMUTCD, the decision to recommend installation of a PHB is based, not only on guidelines met, but also on engineering judgment. The engineer conducting the study will consider the guidelines that are met, if any, and make a recommendation on what is most appropriate for that specific location and condition.
If a PHB is recommended, that location is added to a construction list. As funding is identified, PHBs from this list are installed. PHBs typically cost approximately $75,000 to install.