Fatality raises questions about roadway management

Local News

A 49-year-old moped driver was killed Monday morning when the driver of a van crossed the lane in front of him to make a left turn. 

The crash happened on Kapiolani Boulevard at about 6:40 a.m. The road was coned for morning contra-flow at the time.

Police say the moped and the van — owned by Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control — were going in the same direction at the time of the crash. 

The van came to a stop in a driveway marked with a sign prohibiting left turns.

The van driver was not injured.

Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control issued a statement expressing condolences to the family of the man on the moped — and pledging to cooperate with the police investigation.

The death is the 23rd traffic fatality of the year.

The contraflow arrangement on Kapiolani and other Oahu roadways can cause confusion for drivers.

In the mornings and afternoons, a lane is added to one direction of traffic by coning — which also takes away a lane from the opposite direction of traffic. 

Cones placed on white dotted lines separate traffic going in opposite directions. 

That means cars are traveling in the same direction on both sides of the double-solid yellow line.

Signs along affected roadways prohibit drivers from making left turns, when the road is coned. 

Ryan Tam is a resident of the area and is chairman of the Ala Moana-Kakaako Neighborhood Board.

“I have seen incidents where people are trying to make the turn from the incorrect lane and it can get confusing and very unsafe.”

However, some signs, such as along Kapiolani Boulevard, prohibit making left turns at any time of day or night.

Tam says, “So, you’re not supposed to turn left, (but) you do see people making those turns every once in awhile.”

Tam says the City Department of Transportation Services has managed morning and afternoon traffic with contraflow lanes since the 1960s or 1970s. 

But times are changing — and Kakaako, which stretches makai of the Kapiolani Boulevard crash scene — is a developing neighborhood.

“As this community grows, we just need to think about, we need to analyze, whether the roadways are still serving our needs. So as this community grows and we need better access, throughout the day, um maybe the roads need to be redesigned so there’s less focus on people getting in and out of town.”

He says the idea is worth exploring, at the neighborhood board and city levels.

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