JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
AARP members Bea Terumoto, left, and Hazel Amen waved signs yesterday along the intersection of South King and Hauoli streets in Moiliili in support of an AARP campaign for pedestrian safety. The site is where AARP volunteer Gwyne Isa was critically injured Friday when she was hit by a car. Isa had lobbied for a traffic light at the site where she was hit.
‘This is a dangerous place’
A South King Street area sees many close encounters every day
An angry pedestrian swung his plastic bag at a car that barely missed him after screeching to a halt in the crosswalk.
A police officer escorted a person too scared to step off the sidewalk as cars zoomed by.
Minutes later the sound of rubber skidding on asphalt stunned a woman crossing the street.
These and other near hits all happened in less than an hour yesterday on the 1800 block of South King Street. That is where AARP volunteers urged motorists and pedestrians to be cautious at two crosswalks serving a public school, a busy supermarket, a bank and shops.
The city is now promising to install a walk signal in one of the McCully area crosswalks by June under a pilot program that will also fund improvements to a Kalihi crosswalk (the city did not release the location). The cost of each project is about $100,000, said city spokesman Bill Brennan.
The AARP event came three days after one of its volunteers, Gwyne Isa, 63, was struck by a car driven by a 90-year-old man while crossing the street there. The woman suffered head injuries and remains in critical condition at the Queen's Medical Center, said AARP State Director Barbara Kim Stanton.
"We are as concerned with drivers as we are with pedestrians," said AARP spokesman Bruce Bottorff, holding a banner that read, "People Before Roads."
The two crosswalks, about 50 yards apart, cut through six lanes of traffic, with the nearest stoplight being two blocks away at Punahou Street. They are heavily used in the morning and in the afternoon by Washington Middle School students, said Gary Morishima, store director for Times Super Market.
He said the market cut down a 3-foot hedge bordering its parking lot a year ago to help drivers see pedestrians. Police were ticketing cars parked closer than 20 feet from the crosswalks yesterday.
"This is a dangerous place," said Lt. Jerry Wojcik, who heads the Honolulu Police Department's pedestrian safety campaign. "Unfortunately, there's a lot of elderly people here, and the traffic is just unbelievable."
While the two crosswalks were not included in a 2006 study by AARP and the state listing 50 dangerous intersections in Hawaii, Bottorff said they are unsafe because they are on broad roads lacking signs.
The AARP remains critical of Gov. Linda Lingle's decision not to release money under a bill granting $3 million from the state Highway Fund for pedestrian-safety measures. The Legislature overrode the governor's veto of the bill
earlier this year, but Lingle has argued the fund has been depleted and should not be used to subsidize county projects.
Tommy Akana, 90, who drove to Times for grocery yesterday, said more signs are needed to make the South King crosswalks visible.
"People are too anxious, too in a hurry," he said.