HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Crosswalks are supposed to protect pedestrians, but city officials are concerned that people may be at risk in some older crossings. They're considering whether to remove some mid-block crosswalks on busy roads with several lanes like King Street and Beretania Street.
"At the time they were put in, the standards were different. We know now for many of these crosswalks, if we had to put them in today, they would not go in in their current condition," said Michael Formby, director of the Department of Transportation Services.
Officials are looking at potential upgrades to help make streets safer. The city recently finished 16 Complete Streets studies focused on improvements for roads heavily used by vehicles and pedestrians.
"For crosswalks, we're looking at bulb-outs so the distance is shorter. We're looking at raised medians in the middle so pedestrians have refuge. We're looking at lighting, like rapid-fire flashing beacons," said Formby.
Formby said the city installed the crosswalks at the request of community members so he expects some pushback. Putting in updated crossings with traffic lights or other features will take time and money.
"The issue is whether in the interest of safety, do we take them off the road? My position is safety is first. We've had too many pedestrian deaths in Honolulu. We can't continue on this route," Formby said.
The city expects to discuss the possible changes with community members in September.
August is Pedestrian Safety Month in Hawaii. The governor kicked off the awareness campaign with a proclamation signing on Tuesday. 240 pedestrian have died in Hawaii died since 2006. Anita Nihei nearly became a statistic. She survived after being hit in a Waikele crosswalk nearly four years ago. These days, she shares her story through the Walk Wise Hawaii program to warn others about having a false sense of security while crossing the street.
"The first driver allowed me to cross. It was the second driver that wasn't paying attention and I wasn't paying attention because I felt safe in the crosswalk," said Nihei.