DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM*
A bicyclist was killed yesterday after being struck by a city bus on Kalanianaole Highway. Here, police investigated the accident and prepared to load the bicycle into a car.
2 seniors die on isle roads
The fatalities come as work continues to protect pedestrians and stiffen penalties
A 94-year-old pedestrian and a 75-year-old bicyclist died yesterday after unrelated traffic accidents on Oahu, bringing the total number of seniors killed this year alongside the island's roadways to six.
The fatalities come as police and transportation officials are trying to increase awareness of the state's new pedestrian safety law while also pushing for stiffer penalties for repeat offenders.
Police started enforcing the law in September, handing out $97 citations to drivers who failed to stop and yield to pedestrians or bicyclists who were in the motorists' half of the roadway or approaching closely from the opposite side.
A bill moving through the state Legislature would increase the fines for drivers, upping a first-time ticket to $150 and a second to $300. Third-time offenders would pay $1,000.
Police could not determine if the 94-year-old pedestrian killed yesterday was in a crosswalk or near one.
The accident happened at about 6:25 a.m. yesterday when a 26-year-old man driving a 1993 Ford Explorer on California Avenue in Wahiawa turned onto Mango Street and hit the victim, police said.
The pedestrian, a Wahiawa man, was taken to Wahiawa General Hospital and pronounced dead.
Police said it was raining hard and still dark outside when the accident happened.
Later in the day, at about 11:42 a.m., a 75-year-old bicyclist was crossing Kalanianaole Highway outside a crosswalk when he was struck by a city bus heading east near East Hind Drive.
The victim was taken to the Queen's Medical Center, where he later died. The 54-year-old city bus driver and his passengers were not injured, police said.
The traffic fatalities are the 15th and 16th of the year on Oahu, compared with 17 at the same time in 2005.
The state Transportation Department has supported House Bill 2422, which would increase fines for those who do not follow the new crosswalk law. The bill will be heard Monday at 1:15 p.m. in Conference Room 224 at the state Capitol.
Transportation spokesman Scott Ishikawa said higher fines would likely mean better compliance with the law.
"The reason the whole law came about is to have the crosswalk be a safe haven," he said. "The drivers need to stop when pedestrians are in the crosswalk."
Therese Argoud, a coordinator at the state Health Department's Injury Prevention program, said, "Our street-ways just are not pedestrian-friendly.
"In many neighborhoods, there are no sidewalks, crosswalks oftentimes are not clearly marked."
Recently compiled state Health Department statistics show that over a four-year period ending in 2003, Hawaii topped the country for pedestrian fatality rates among those 65 and older.
The state had the nation's fifth-highest bicyclist fatality rate over the same period, and it ranked eighth in bicyclist and pedestrian death rates combined, Argoud said.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
» Star-Bulletin photographer Dennis Oda took a photo of police investigating a fatal accident between a city bus and a bicyclist Friday. A photo on Page A3 Saturday was incorrectly credited to Jamm Aquino.