Monday, August 16, 2010
Rant: New traffic website ok, but I still hope for paint on the roads
by Larry Geller
Lt. Gov. Aiona posted an announcement of a new transportation service on his website today. It’s called GoAkamai.org. I think the money would be better spent on street maintenance. So this will be a bit of a rant. Nice photos below, if you’d rather not read.
The state and city transportation departments settled on the name GoAkamai.org. Well, that’s not very promising. Many website URLs give a hint about what they are about so it will be easy to remember where to go for the info. If I’m sitting in my car (parked, of course) wondering what website had the traffic information, I shouldn’t have to Google first to find it.
Lt. Gov says:
The DOT, in collaboration with the City and County of Honolulu, launched GoAkamai.org to provide O`ahu travelers with the most up-to-the-minute information about roadway conditions.
"This traveler website, with real-time information, provides our residents with the tools necessary to plan their commutes,” said Lt. Governor Aiona.
The idea is not bad, but not yet good. Using radar units mounted along the H-1, H-2 and H-3 highways, the home page has a map showing the congestion in color. As far as I can tell, there’s no linkage to the GPS unit that may be in your smartphone. So you’d have to fiddle with the map to move it around, enlarge it, etc.
Since it’s only highways, it may not help those who have no choice but to get on the H-1 anyway. Sure, it’s of some use. I’m not saying no. But worth all the expense? How, exactly, does it provide any help in planning commutes when there is no alternative?
Then there’s an alert box at the top. That’s supposed to let you know when there’s something unusual, like construction, that you should know about. Or maybe a collision, and the road is closed. It pops up in red with the alert.
Aha! There’s an alert up! Must be something happening someplace! Let’s check it out:
So much for the Alert function.
On the left are some navigation buttons. One choice is Accessibility. That says:
GoAkamai is committed to servicing those with disabilities and particular needs and was designed to be accessible to the widest user audience as possible.
Now, that would be tough, given that the data is in the form of a map (which appears to have no ALT or TITLE tags necessary for accessibility). Actually, I don’t see how this website will “service” those with disabilities, assuming they want to be “serviced” in the first place.
The site is full of links to other unrelated data like bus and bike path info. It’s great that it has this, but I don’t think that material gives the automobile driver much help. What would? Some hint of alternative routes, if any.
The other day I was stuck forever on Piikoi St. in the direction of the highway. Ward Avenue is often at a standstill going Mauka. The map doesn’t help with that. It can take longer to get to the highway than the time spent on the H-1.
A radio traffic report is much more helpful.
Clicking on Traffic on the top navigation, and a few clicks later (they could do much better with this), you get to a map showing traffic cameras in Honolulu. It’s interactive. So I clicked on the camera near where I am. Nope, it didn’t bring me the camera view, it’s fake interactive. Or it doesn’t work with my browser.
This website just isn’t helpful. Maybe it will be more useful in the future.
Meanwhile, if the Departments of Transportation are looking for ways to spend taxpayer money, many of us could give them some good suggestions, I’m sure.
Mine would be to spend more money on paint. Oh, I can’t resist taking a swipe at how badly our City Dept. of Transportation, which wants to build a train, takes care of maintenance. Sorry.
This crosswalk is disappearing. A driver in the 2nd lane might miss it.
This crosswalk in Kalihi is gone:
In the next picture, will a motorist know that the car can go straight in the right lane? There’s an arrow on Punahoe completely gone, but I don’t have a picture of it. Just imagine any old piece of black pavement and you have it, though.
How many collisions take place because paint or signage is missing? Now, wouldn’t spending a bit of money on upkeep of our streets be a worthwhile investment to keep our streets safe?
Some cities keep paint on the streets. Flying around with Google Earth, you can see examples of neglect, of course, but also:
Even Boise, ID:
To close out this rant, here’s the sign on the corner of Bachelot St. and Kuakini, near Ho`opono, which provides services for the blind. Even the sighted would have trouble reading this street sign, which has been without paint for years.
I love this rant. Maybe you could go back to it, in let's say two months and observe if any improvements have been made. We need more reports like this. How can we even think about rail, when we can't even maintain our basic streets. And the bit about the street sign is just too funny.