By: Richard Bernstein 6/14/13 This was a memorable week in our fight to eradicate bullying from Michigan’s schools. As the school year comes to a...
By Richard Bernstein It was a great honor to have recently returned from traveling to London to work with Chabad Lubavitch UK. Chabad Lubavitch is...
A car accident can be a traumatic experience, no matter how serious. Even experienced, cautious drivers can be involved in accidents due to the negligent...
West Bloomfield Beacon
By Eric Czarnik, C & G Staff Writer
July 8, 2009
A disability advocate and the Road Commission for Oakland County will have a hawk's eye on a new system that might make life easier for blind pedestrians at the Maple and Drake roads roundabout. The Road Commission will begin construction this month to install a high-intensity activated crosswalk, or HAWK. To install the $795, 000 project, the Road Commission is blocking off through-traffic on Drake near Maple July 13 for about a month.
In the meantime, drivers will be able to take a detour path via Farmington Road, the Road Commission said. Attorney Richard Bernstein of The Bernstein Law Firm in Farmington Hills said the new technology would be installed as part of a lawsuit agreement between his disabled plaintiffs and the Road Commission.
Bernstein hoped that people and businesses would endure the construction's disruption because he believes HAWK could improve many lives.
"What really happened in the court is that the paper actually comes to life," he said, referring to the court agreement. "It's tangible.
It's going to help real people." Currently, Bernstein said, blind people cannot cross the roundabout safely because there usually is a steady flow of traffic running through it. Once HAWK is installed, it will give blind people a chance to cross, and it will also allow safer passage for cyclists, pedestrians and children, he said.
According to the Road Commission, the HAWK system utilizes user-activated buttons near crossings that will briefly disrupt the roundabout's flow of traffic. If a pedestrian presses a button near the crossing, a traffic signal will first blink yellow, then turn yellow and finally turn red to warn vehicles to stop. Then the pedestrian will hear a spoken message that signals the time to cross.
When time is up, the signal flashes red and then lets cars pass through.
Western Michigan University will study the HAWK system's effectiveness at Maple and Drake for about a year. While Bernstein said everyone is hoping for success, the study could potentially reveal that the system is a failure. And that would mean Bernstein would have to examine other options in order to help the disabled cross the roundabouts. "Let's pray that this is the solution," he said.
After the Road Commission reopens the Maple-Drake roundabout, it will later work on the roundabout at Maple and Farmington roads to install a similar system called the Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon.
Construction could start in spring 2010, Road Commission spokesman Craig Bryson said.
Bryson said the RRFB is similar to the HAWK system, except it uses a strobe-like light to alert drivers instead of red and yellow lights.
Regardless of the system, Bryson said traffic would stop at the test-case roundabouts less frequently than the average four-way intersection.
"That's one of the benefits of the HAWK and the RRFB - they're not in use unless the pedestrian actually presses a button," he said. "We're hopeful it will still allow traffic flow."
Visually Impaired Athlete Sues USA Triathlon
Richard Bernstein Challenges ABA for Discrimination Against Blind Law Students
Michigan Sports Hall of Fame Honors Richard Bernstein with Courage Award
Attorney Richard Bernstein Named Leader in the Law by Michigan Lawyers Weekly
Victory! Disabled Win Access to U-M Stadium