Earlier this month the state recorded its first bicycle fatality of the year, according to the state Department of Transportation.
In early August a 49-year-old bicyclist died from injuries he sustained in a collision with a pickup truck at an intersection in Aiea.
That bumped the tally of traffic fatalities on state roadways from Jan. 1 to Aug. 4 to 68, according to HDOT, one more than during the same period the prior year.
During that time there were 27 motor vehicle fatalities, 26 pedestrian fatalities, 14 motorcycle and moped fatalities and one bicycle fatality.
There have been two more pedestrian fatalities this year compared with 24 during the same period last year. The majority of them, 14, occurred on Oahu.
The statistics include three pedestrians who were killed in Kakaako in January, when a driver in a pickup truck plowed into them at the intersection of Kamakee Street and Ala Moana Boulevard.
They also include a 90-year-old woman struck by a pickup truck in Salt Lake in July while in a marked crosswalk.
The bicyclist in Aiea was traveling southbound on Aiea Heights Drive, police said, and got into a right-turn lane, then made a left turn at the Ulune Street intersection when he was struck.
He was taken in critical condition to the hospital where he later died.
“As far as statistics go, each one of these numbers represents a person,” said HDOT spokeswoman Shelly Kunishige. “Each one of these numbers, when you see it in a table, doesn’t represent what it truly is: someone’s family member, someone’s loved one.”
With that in mind, Kunishige said, “We’re working towards the goal of zero fatalities.”
Daniel Alexander, co-executive director of the Hawaii Bicycling League, agreed.
In many cases, intersections are a key danger point where the majority of vehicle-bicycle collisions occur, and most often the driver did not see the bicyclist passing through.
He is encouraged, however, to see an overall downward trend in the number of bicycle fatalities.
Compared with 2017, when there were six bicyclist fatalities, one per year is an improvement, and he hopes it is due to education efforts — on the bicyclists’ part as well as motorists’ part.
As part of efforts to prevent pedestrian fatalities, the state is installing raised crosswalks as well as “pedestrian gateway systems,” a low-cost way to increase driver yielding and speed reduction rates at crosswalks.
The systems, made up of yield signs and delineators, have been installed at intersections where there are no signal lights on Pali Highway as well as Farrington Highway.
Four raised crosswalks were installed last week on Farrington Highway at the intersections of Ala Walua Street, the Waianae High School exit, Alawa Place and Maiuu Road. They are expected to improve visibility for pedestrians using them as well as provide drivers with a physical reminder to slow down.
Raised crosswalks were previously installed on Kalihi Street fronting King David Kalakaua Middle School.
“We’re trying to use a combination of the engineering, which includes the raised pedestrian crosswalks and the gateway systems, and education through our ‘Walk Wise’ program,” said Kunishige. “Ultimately, we are asking for everybody’s cooperation in reducing preventable deaths on roadways.”
HDOT’s preliminary statistics are posted regularly via its “Safe Communities” program, which aims to reduce the number of deaths and injuries on Hawaii’s roads.
From Jan. 1 to Aug. 4, 2018, there were 22 motor vehicle fatalities, 24 pedestrian fatalities, 20 moped/motorcycle and electric bike fatalities and one bicycle fatality, totaling 67.
For all of 2018 there were 117 traffic fatalities in Hawaii: 37 involving motor vehicles; 44 involving pedestrians; 34 involving mopeds, motorcycles and a motorized bike; and two involving bicyclists. The 117 were more than the 107 in 2017.
To be counted, a fatal crash must involve a motor vehicle traveling on a traffic way customarily open to the public and result in the death of at least one person within 30 days. When finalized by the medical examiner’s office, data is submitted to the state Highways Program Status Map, which currently features fatal crash locations and contributing factors from 2012 to 2017.
FATALITIES BY COUNTY
There have been 68 traffic fatalities on state roadways from the start of the year to Aug. 4.
Hawaii traffic fatalities (Jan. 1 to Aug. 4, 2019)
>> Honolulu County: 10 motor vehicles, 14 pedestrians, 8 motorcycles/mopeds, 1 bicycle
>> Hawaii County: 5 motor vehicles, 6 pedestrians, 4 motorcycles
>> Maui County: 8 motor vehicles, 5 pedestrians, 1 motorcycle/moped
>> Kauai County: 4 motor vehicles. 1 pedestrian, 1 motorcycle
Honolulu traffic fatalities (Jan. 1 to Aug. 4, 2018)
>> Honolulu County: 7 motor vehicles, 15 pedestrians, 13 motorcycles/mopeds
>> Hawaii County: 10 motor vehicles, 5 pedestrians, 4 motorcycles/1 bicycle
>> Maui County: 5 motor vehicles, 3 pedestrians, 3 motorcycles
>> Kauai County: 1 pedestrian
Source: State Department of Transportation