Walk audit finds flaws in Honolulu streets and sidewalks

Walk audit finds flaws in Honolulu streets and sidewalks

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The ongoing effort to make Honolulu streets safer continues. Today a "walking audit" revealed some fixable problems in Downtown.

Hawaii has more pedestrian deaths than almost any other state in the country per capita. City leaders are hoping infrastructure improvements can be a piece of the solution, not part of the problem.

"Some parts are okay and some parts are just crazy. Half the time I almost get hit. I've almost been hit a couple times," said Kevin Fleshman, 24, who has been blind since he was 5.

"There's no reason why you have to take your life in your hands to cross the street in Honolulu," said Barbara Kim Stanton, AARP Hawaii President.

Monday experts with the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute led a "walking audit" spotting flaws. It started right in front of Honolulu Hale at the intersection of Punchbowl and South King Street.

"All this traffic cannot, should not ever turn right but look at this wide sweeping radius that invites the motorist by doing the wrong thing," said Dan Burden, Walkable and Livable Communities Institute.

Instead Burden says the city should make the corner look more like a corner with a 90 angle. It would eliminate doubt from drivers about turning onto the one way street. It also shortens the distance pedestrians are in the crosswalk.

"Truly every intersection I've been to I find at least a dozen mistakes," said Burden.

Then there is the busy crosswalk on South King Street between the Iolani Palace and the King Kamehameha statue where people have to cross five lanes.

"What that sets up is a blind condition. So the first motorist stops and sets up the blind spot. The next motorist doesn't know why that motorist stopped and they take out the pedestrian," said Burden.

He says instead of stopping traffic right up against the crosswalk to stop it about 60 feet back. That way drivers can see the pedestrians better.

"All it is is where you put the paint," said Burden.

He also pointed out uneven sidewalks, light posts that were partially blocking ramps and drivers blocking crosswalks. The only way to stop that though is to not allow right turns on red lights.

"Some are controversial, some not and we want to look at the whole group of different solutions and make our city more livable city," said Kirk Caldwell, Honolulu Mayor. "Livability means being able to drive safely, walk safely, ride bikes safely and just live better outdoors."

City leaders want to add $5 million to the budget for the first series of complete streets projects.

"We haven't come up with the total cost of doing this over the next 10 years or 20 years we're going to be looking at that. Right now we're looking at bringing in the expert, changing the way people think about streets and starting to do individual projects," said Michael Formby, City Director of Transportation Services. "They are doable, we just have to do the planning, design and come up with the funds."

Today the leaders got to see what some pedestrians have known all along.

"They need to do a little bit better job," said Fleshman. "Some parts are not safe at all."

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