Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell on Wednesday unveiled his seven-point plan to improve pedestrian safety in the city with the theme of “Look All Ways.”
The plan calls for seven common sense initiatives that combine public education and awareness using stenciled signs on the street to remind people to “look all ways.” Other measures include safety flags, reflective delineator posts, tougher laws and stepped-up enforcement of traffic violations.
“Our goal with these new measures is to introduce common sense pedestrian safety protections throughout Oahu,” said Caldwell in a news release. “The people of this island want action when it comes to keeping pedestrians safe, and we’re working hard to put these new safety measures in place. While we know we’re not going to solve the problem of pedestrian safety overnight, each step we take will hopefully allow people to be safer while walking, biking, or driving on our roads.”
Caldwell announced the plan at the busy intersection of Keeaumoku and South King streets, where a female pedestrian was struck and killed by a vehicle in 2016.
Altogether, the measures outlined in the plan cost a little over $30,000, with the largest chunk going toward the safety delineators, which cost about $280 each.
The low-cost measures include the stenciled signs, which the city will install these at 20 locations, he said, adding that officials would then work with community groups such as the Lions Club, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to paint additional signs at more intersections.
A total of 200 bright orange safety flags with the “look all ways” logo also will be deployed across Honolulu, primarily at high traffic intersections. These safety flags for pedestrians are already being used at crosswalks in Waianae, Wailupe and Waimanalo.
Reflective delineators — or bollards — will be installed in key areas where pedestrian traffic incidents have occurred. A total of 100 will be installed, with a focus on smaller roads with traffic going each way.
Honolulu also will develop an “Oahu Pedestrian Plan,” to be completed in the spring, which will take a comprehensive look at existing conditions and outlines steps needed to make Honolulu a more walkable, livable city, prioritizing pedestrian improvement projects.
All of this would be reinforced with a public service announcement to air on television and radio stations in the next few weeks.
Down the line, Caldwell said he would consider other measures, such as flashing lights embedded in the pavement, which require more time and money to install. The seven-point plan, however, could be implemented quickly at a relatively low cost.
Hawaii holds the top spot in the nation for the number of people age 65 and older who are at risk of being killed as pedestrians, according to Barbara Kim Stanton, state director of AARP Hawaii.
She supported the measures, saying she hoped it would help seniors be seen while crossing the street.
“Our kupuna should not have to cross their fingers hoping they’ll get to the other side of the street safely,” she said. “So we’re glad this is going to be changing with this new, aggressive campaign.”
In light of the recent crash on Ala Moana Boulevard, which killed three people, Caldwell said he has questioned whether a different street design or bollards would have made a difference, but is not sure they would have, given the circumstances.
That’s where the sixth point in his seven-point plan comes in — police enforcement.
Honolulu police will continue setting up road blocks and increase roving patrols for impaired drivers, according to Traffic Division Acting Maj. Ben Moszkowicz.
Last year, he said, police arrested and charged 3,999 individuals in Honolulu with impaired driving.
“HPD will step up enforcement,” he said. “Be aware … if you’re drunk or high, you will get arrested. The gloves are off. There’s no holds barred.”
Caldwell said he supports two bills in the state Legislature this year, one of which would prohibit right turns on red, and another that would place cameras at traffic lights to catch and fine those who run red lights.
Red light camera enforcement already exists in 388 other communities around the nation, including Washington, D.C., and is nothing new, he said.
“Taking no action, I think, just endangers pedestrians,” he said.
In 2018, there were 117 traffic fatalities in the state — 44 of them pedestrians, according to state Department of Transportation statistics. From Jan. 1 to Feb. 13 of this year, there have been 19 traffic fatalities — nine of them involving pedestrians.
PEDESTRIAN SAFETY MEASURES
>> “Look All Ways” stencils
>> In-road delinators
>> Safety flags
>> Oahu Pedestrian Plan
>> State laws
>> DUI enforcement
>> PSA campaign