Editor’s Scratchpad

Friday, November 23, 2001

Cops and cars
sit idle in traffic

A fair amount of time is spent in idle speculation while trying to get down any Honolulu street these days. When was the last time you saw a street with every lane open?

Punchbowl is particularly bad. One of the busiest streets in the city has the double whammy of being rebuilt at the same time the city is putting up Christmas decorations.

Notice that there are police at every construction site, standing around, staring at the hole in the ground. Notice also that the traffic signals -- which, in Honolulu, are state-of-the-art roboticised signals, with data banks of daily-average traffic demographics ruling the timing -- are ignoring traffic gridlock in lane-squeezed streets, exacerbating the problem.

Police are trained to stand in for traffic signals, directing traffic through the intersections. They just don't do it, not even in emergencies. During the south-shore tsunami scare several years ago, traffic gridlocked coming out of Waikiki because the police didn't override traffic signals and direct traffic.

Honolulu police should be directing traffic wherever there's a traffic problem -- which is everywhere these days.

--Burl Burlingame

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