Monday, July 02, 2007
A pedestrian-friendly Honolulu could look to New York
New Yorkers Walk
The City Charter amendment passed last year puts it on record that Honolulu is to be a pedestrian-friendly city, but frankly, it doesn't look like our leaders have heard the message. There's a lot that can be done here to make the spirit of the city charter amendment jump out of the paper and come to life.
New Yorkers walk everywhere. And they jaywalk everywhere. Well, not quite--the overwhelming majority jaywalk only in intersections, with far fewer people crossing in middle of the block, but you see that also.
And why not? New York has not seen the carnage Honolulu has seen. Something must be working despite the flagrant jaywalking. There are no right turns allowed on red, which further protects pedestrians. In fact, when no cars are coming and pedestrians jaywalk against the light, they are very safe because no car will be turning into the crosswalk in front of them. Honolulu pedestrians never have that level of safety.
New York City is designed for pedestrians. Honolulu is primitive in comparison. We've sold out to the car, and we might look to New York for guidance in recreating our streets for the benefit of those who walk, skate, bike, or use wheelchairs to get around. More accurately, our government and police department have sold out to drivers. Instead of focusing primarily on pedestrian behavior, the deadly habits of our motorists are allowed to go unchecked.
Motorists will not become endangered species if we insisted on enforcing the traffic laws. We should demand that the Mayor do this.
New Yorkers Walk
New York is filled with great little parks and park-like areas on traffic medians. There are usually benches and often tables, with or without umbrellas, provided by the city. They're a great place to eat lunch with friends or co-workers, or just to relax and observe the scene. The city fills them with flowering trees and seasonal flower arrangements. During our recent trip we saw thousands of tulips and hyacinths as we rode uptown on the buses. The medians allow pedestrians to rest for awhile. Benches are provided so they can sit down. It's not too radical an idea for Honolulu to adopt, is it?
These two pictures were taken on Broadway near 73rd Street. Shoppers at the nearby Fairways market rest on the benches as they carry or wheel their purchases home. Note that since the median is planted and there is a low wall, pedestrians are discouraged from jaywalking in middle of the street. Note also that there are barriers to protect the pedestrians and the benches.
The pedestrian crossing signals on this section of Broadway were the shortest we've observed--the red hand started flashing when we were about six feet from the far side of the street. This is in contrast to Honolulu, where the red hand can start flashing a few seconds after you step into the crosswalk. At other intersections we were able to get across without ever seeing the flashing red hand. Even if we were a few feet from the corner we always had time to get to it and walk across without the light turning against us. It goes without saying that crosswalks were well-marked. You'd think Honolulu could also make sure its crosswalks were in tip-top shape. It's the least we can ask. How come pedestrians always have to beg here?
New Yorkers Eat
In a town made for walking, it's nice that there are plenty of places to eat outdoors. From a couple of tables outside a pizza joint to this formal outdoor dining spot, New Yorkers can enjoy their meals alfresco all over the city.
New Yorkers love to eat on the street, and there's a large fleet of street vendors to accommodate every taste. This entrepreneur offers hot dogs, Italian sausages, hot knishes, shish kebab, chestnuts, pretzels, sodas, water and Snapple. Only in New York? Not really. Tokyo, Seoul, other world capitols and many US cities allow street vendors. Very pedestrian friendly. Why not Honolulu? I think knishes would be a big hit with the Bishop Street crowd.
New Yorkers Ride
Why Honolulu's bus service keeps boasting of its prizes without bringing us the services bus riders enjoy elsewhere has been a mystery to me. For example, timetables and maps. Heck, at most bus stops in our fair city, we can't even tell what buses stop there or where they are going! And drivers don't mind being early, so that if you are on time, you've already missed your bus, and it could be a long wait for the next one. If a bus in New York is running fast, it waits.
We've lived in many places, and the least one can expect is good signage. Ideally this will include maps and timetables. In a pedestrian-friendly Honolulu we will have to take the bus sometimes, and we should put pressure on the City to provide us with basic services. No more banana-republic transportation for us. They need to shape up.
We need a revolution here before Mufi's train is built. I've concentrated on pedestrians, but bicyclists deserve their space and safety also.
Let's reclaim our streets.
I can attest that there is at least one late-night hot dog stand that comes around near Murphy's on Nu'uanu to feed the hungry bar patrons.
There's another hot dog stand that comes by at lunch time b/t the territorial building (now post office) and the Haw. Sup. Ct. building.
As a hot dog lover and fan of NYC eateries and practices, this is woefully inadequate.
Good points. It's quite clear that our government, particularly the mayor, has a problem with priorities.
The vendors on Bishop Street would indeed be a good idea, but, they need to serve food we recognize and like. We all know what we like and we know where to get it. Making it easier for us is what it's all about!
Now, about the pedestrians and the drivers and the bicycles... why are we so stubborn? There is hope... there is a new traffic like that tells you how many seconds are left even while the walk signal is still on! Well, it's a start.
Thanks for visiting my corner an leaving a comment so that I could follow you home! :)
WTF dumb shit is this NYC?!?!
walking or bicycling can often be unpleasant, a kind of death defying obstacle course. helping pedestrians could mean placing restrictions on motorists -- and while city officials recently passed a new law banning bicycles on sidewalks, they would be loathe to do anything that would irk the more numerous and politically powerful drivers of cars.
We look at every place as a hot spot because of the ingrained culture that the driver comes first."
Check out corner of Bethel & Beretania... Nevermind that it's a one way left turn only and it stupid not to have a full one dropped corner like it is in front of the courthouse . No but get - five feet upstream from corner is the zebra crossing, 10'upstream is the stop line for cars. 20 fucking feet back from that where the arrows are is Mufi stinking new wheelchair ramp, WTF is that all abou?
All the ped tickest for revenue not safety becuase Honolulu has no standards and HPD understand convulated law differently.
Unable to be lawful if law is confusing. Even the police interpret these laws subjectively. Anywhere a pedestrian steps into the street, becomes a crosswalk unless otherwise forbidden by other statutes . Not impeding traffic and not a traffic hazard when crossed empty street. It' revenue and not for safety when nitpicking to absurdity
overwhelming targeting the Indigent carless underclass. Government oppression with overwhelming monetary penalty unevenly applied due to profiling of obvious poverty - checking to see if there are any open wants & warrants. ( from unpaid tickets ) Fascist Amerika Sucks
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