Island-wide crosswalk revamp aimed at bolstering pedestrian safety

Island-wide crosswalk revamp aimed at bolstering pedestrian safety

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city is embarking on an ambitious plan to upgrade or eliminate crosswalks across Oahu.

"Our top priority is safety," city Department of Transportation Services acting Director Mark Garrity said.

To make a safer journey for pedestrians from curb to curb, the city will add a fourth crosswalk at some signalized intersections that have only three crosswalks, like the intersection at Kapiolani Boulevard and Pensacola Street.

"We should be directing pedestrians to these signalized intersections. That's the safest place to cross," Garrity said.

Meanwhile, on some multi-lane streets that are wide enough and have mid-block crosswalks, the city may install medians for pedestrians. "It gives them an opportunity to pause halfway across the street and wait for traffic to clear," Garrity said.

Also, some multi-lane streets might be reduced from four lanes to two with a crossing lane in the middle, making it safer for pedestrians to use mid-block crosswalks.

And finally, crosswalks deemed unsafe or unnecessary will be eliminated.

"When we did repave Beretania Street recently we did take out a couple of crosswalks that didn't conform to our standards and we may be doing that in other locations as well," Garrity said.

So far this year, 17 pedestrians have been killed on Oahu; seven were in crosswalks.

"A crosswalk does not have an invisible force field that's going to prevent a distracted or impaired driver from hitting you," said Lance Rae, of Walk Wise Hawaii. "You need to look left. You need to look right. You need to look left again."

The city also plans to install aids to help better mark crosswalks.

Garrity said crosswalks on streets with lower traffic volume will get additional signage, painted bars on the street that tell drivers where to stop, or flashing beacons.

"We want people to be safe as they cross the street," he said.

The city consulted safety studies and federal crosswalk standards for guidance on crosswalk upgrades.

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