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Monday, September 22, 2014         

KOKUA LINE


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City remains undecided on use of Segways on sidewalks

By June Watanabe

POSTED:



Question: On Father's Day we were walking around Ala Moana Park, and all of a sudden, at least 12 people on Segways went flying past me. Are Segways allowed on sidewalks? If not, what can be done to stop them from traveling on the sidewalks? There are many others who use the sidewalks at Ala Moana Park, and many users are children.

Answer: Section 291C-134.5 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes allows "electric personal assistive mobile devices" -- such as Segways -- to be ridden on sidewalks and bike paths, unless prohibited by county ordinance.

In Honolulu the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu does not address sidewalk usage by Segways, but Section 15-18.10(h) says you can't "operate any vehicle other than (1) a bicycle without a motor, or (2) authorized vehicles, where permitted by posted signs" on bicycle lanes.

Last November we were told "it would appear that," based on the city ordinance, Segways are prohibited from operating on bike lanes and paths under the city's jurisdiction. However, the city Corporation Counsel was asked to confirm this opinion.

Nothing has been confirmed so far.

"The Segway issue is a difficult one," said Wayne Yoshioka, director of the city Department of Transportation Services.

He noted bills have been submitted at both the City Council and state Legislature to deal with the issue. A proposed bill to ban Segways from city parks was introduced in the Council last year, for example, but was deferred to a committee in May.

"The primary difficulty is how the Segway is defined and how this definition impacts other classes of assistive devices," Yoshioka said. "We haven't given up, and with the help of Corporation Counsel, we will eventually have a policy."

Meanwhile, state law restricts Segways to a maximum 8 mph on sidewalks, and the rider has to be at least 16 years old.

The law further says that when operating a Segway or similar device on a sidewalk or bike path, the rider "shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with, and shall yield the right-of-way to, persons traveling on foot and those using mobility aids"; give an audible signal before passing any pedestrian; and have reflectors or a headlamp when operating a half-hour after sunset to a half-hour before sunrise.

Question: I was told by a trusted source that the state of Hawaii occasionally holds special events at public schools on the weekends to issue official state ID cards. This was done to alleviate the crowds at the state office. Is this true, and are there any events planned in the near future?

Answer: The state ID office has offered special ID-processing days in the community for several years but has had to suspend them because of staff shortages.

The "very popular community outreach events (held) on the weekends" have been suspended until further notice, said Liane Moriyama, who oversees the state ID office.

Normally, notices about such events are posted on the state ID website -- hawaii.gov/ag/hcjdc/main/hawaii_id_cards -- announced via press releases and publicized on banners in the community where the event will be held.

MAHALO

To a young man who really went out of his way to help a "pupule tutu." Several Thursdays ago I was walking past Papa John's Pizza heading to Don Quijote on Kaheka Street. Living in what I call "The Tropical Trash Bin of the Pacific," my addiction to picking up rubbish was in full swing. Hands full, including sunglasses, I walked to the trash bin and, you guessed it, tossed everything in. I went into Blockbuster Video asking if anyone could help retrieve my sunglasses. No one could, so I left. All of a sudden, a young man said, "Lady, wait, I'll get them for you!" He ran and jumped into the bin and brought my glasses up with a grin. It was an incident I'll never forget. He probably won't, either! -- Barbara Hudman


Write to "Kokua Line" at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email kokualine@staradvertiser.com.






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