Pedestrian safety changes in the works for some of Oahu’s busiest roads

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Gateway concept and rapid fire beacon. Two new ideas designed to increase pedestrian safety. The state and the city revealed what they have planned after KHON2 pressed for answers.

The state’s gateway concept involves more signs at the crosswalks. While the city is looking at a different type of flashing signal. 

The state Department of Transportation wants to implement the gateway concept at Pali Highway. That’s where 83-year-old Raymond Endow was hit in a crosswalk and later died.
       
Michigan DOT started using it four years ago. And it involves putting fluorescent signs on both sides of the intersection, and in between the lanes. 

“We found when we did this, yielding went up in very high levels. Instead of placing one sign, placing multiple signs was very effective,” said Prof. Ron Van Houten of Western Michigan University, who led the study.

He says the number of drivers who stopped for someone trying to cross the street increased dramatically from just 5% without the signs, up to 80% with multiple signs.

He says it’s also inexpensive, with materials costing $700 to $1,200. Installation is 15 to 45 minutes. And it reduces the speed of drivers approaching a crosswalk by up to seven miles per hour.

“We got speed reductions, which reduces the likelihood of the crash and the severity of the crash if one should occur. We got much higher levels of yielding although results vary from place to place,” said Van Houten.

He points out that this concept has not been done on six-lane roads like Pali Highway. But it’s easy enough to test it out first. 
     
The city says flashing overhead lights did not do enough to improve safety on South King Street. Instead, it’s going to install what’s called a Rectangular Rapid Fire Beacon (RRFB), fast flashing lights installed more at eye level. The first one will be at Kamehameha Highway in Kaneohe. Van Houten adds those lights work better if you also put one in the median.

“If you only have one sign there and two people stop close to the crosswalk they screen the sign essentially, it’s hard to see. So you want to have one on the median side as well so someone doesn’t pass,” said Van Houten.

We’re still waiting to hear back from the city on the cost of the RRFB.

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