Pedestrian safety the focus of statewide community service project

More than 200 volunteers and community partners will gather at 50 locations across the state on Thursday to conduct ‘walkability’ surveys of some of the most dangerous roadways and intersections in Hawai‘i, states an AARP Hawai‘i press release.

At least four locations on Kaua‘i will be included in the survey. AARP Hawai‘i is devoting its annual Day of Service project to pedestrian safety this year in the face of growing concern that Hawai‘i’s streets are too hazardous for people on foot.

Hawai‘i is one of the most dangerous places in America to be a pedestrian. Last year alone, 36 pedestrians were killed — 13 of them in crosswalks. According to the state Department of Transportation, pedestrians over the age of 50 represented 66 percent of the people killed in traffic accidents in the City and County of Honolulu from 1996 to 2003.

“AARP Hawai‘i is closing the doors of its state office Thursday to allow staff and volunteers to focus their combined energies in service to the community,” said AARP Hawai‘i State Director Barbara Kim Stanton, in the release. “We’re devoting this Hawai‘i Day of Service to pedestrian safety because we want everyone to know how important it is to be able to be mobile and independent as we age.”

The community service project is aimed at raising awareness of how motorists and pedestrians can co-exist safely by identifying structural and behavioral changes to help make neighborhoods safer for people of all ages. Examples include modifying signals to allow for easier crossing and educating pedestrians on steps they can take to decrease the risk of personal injury.

Beginning at 10 a.m. at selected locations and continuing throughout the day on Thursday, teams of volunteers on Oahu, Maui, Kaua‘i and the Big Island will evaluate Hawai‘i’s busiest streets — including areas identified by the Department of Transportation as some of the most dangerous roadways for pedestrians.

Volunteers will record their observations on standardized audit forms. Completed forms will be collected later in the day at debriefing sessions co-sponsored by the state Department of Health at predetermined sites on all islands. These sessions will allow volunteers to discuss their observations and share them with attending officials.

The statewide community service project is being held in cooperation with county officials on all islands as well as the Department of Transportation’s Walk Wise Hawai‘i program, a public-education program aimed at promoting safe crossing techniques and driver awareness. AARP is also incorporating pedestrian safety information into its Driver Safety Program in Hawai‘i. The Driver Safety Program provides people age 50 and over with the skills to be mobile and independent as they age.

A volunteer debriefing session will take place at the park in front of the County Building in Lihu‘e at 2 p.m. Thursday’s pedestrian safety surveys are based on a pilot project conducted three months ago at six locations in downtown Honolulu.

The locations and times the surveys on Kaua‘i will occur follow:

Meet 10 a.m. Kaua‘i Museum on Rice Street, group leader, Jacky Shoening.

10 a.m. Rice Street and Hardy Street.

12:30 p.m. Ieha Street/Kuhio Hwy (Wilcox Hospital)

1 p.m. Kuhio Highway between Foodland and Wilshire.

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