‘It’s not safe': Those with disabilities push for a crossing signal on an Iwilei street

Updated: Sep. 1, 2019 at 1:13 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Robert Yokoyama was born with cerebral palsy.

He now dedicates his time to helping people with developmental disabilities reach their goals.

But just getting to work is a hazard.

"I cross this street every day for the last nine years,” said Yokoyama.

Yokoyama works at Abilities Unlimited on Kuwili Street. In order to get to work from a bus stop, he needs to cross Iwilei Road.

The speed limit there is 25 miles per hour, but Yokoyama says sometimes drivers go much faster than that.

“There’s a lot of cars that come in both directions and it’s not safe for people with wheelchairs,” he said. “I would feel a lot safer if there were a cross signal here.”

Each day, Yokoyama takes others like him out into the community to learn how to take the bus, budget their money or find a job.

“We go all over the place, we go to Longs, we go to Petco, sometimes we go to Ala Moana.”

In order to do all that, they must cross the street.

Yokoyama says there have been several close calls over the years.

"We have people with walkers and wheelchairs that cross this, not only me,’ Yokoyama said. “It's not safe.”

Abilities Unlimited Program Manager Melissa Gerber is legally blind.

She also has a hard time crossing Iwilei Road.

“We work with individuals who are hearing impaired, visually impaired, blind, in wheelchairs, they could need a walking device, whether it’s a walker or a cane, so really just a diverse population,” said Gerber. “A lot of times the drivers drive pretty fast around here.”

The city’s Department of Transportation Services has agreed to study the area to see if a traffic signal is warranted. They said it could take up to nine months to get the results.

Both Yokoyama and Gerber fear the study may show not enough people cross the road to warrant a traffic signal.

They are asking city officials to consider other factors as well.

“Please really consider the population around this area,” Gerber said. “I would hate for them to wait for a really bad accident to happen before action is taken.

“Put themselves in the shoes of disabled people and understand what we go through. It’s very dangerous to cross the street here. But it’s my job and I love my job," said Yokoyama.

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