The Nanakuli community is taking safety measures into its own hands by placing brightly colored flags at crosswalks along a stretch of Farrington Highway.
The crosswalks don’t have traffic signals and some of them have been where pedestrians were killed trying to cross the highway.
Pedestrian safety has long been an area of concern for residents out there. Since May, three people have been killed while walking on Farrington Highway, and residents say more lights and signals are needed to keep people safe.
Now, pedestrians are using the flags to signal drivers when they’re about to step out into a crosswalk. Members of the community made the flags themselves after materials were donated by the Hawaii Bicycling League and a few other businesses in the area.
For residents, crossing the roadway is not only dangerous, but it can also be deadly.
There are 25 crosswalks from Black Rock to Makaha that don’t have traffic signals, about a nine mile stretch. Renee Kawelo doesn’t want another tragic fatality to happen to anyone else, so she and several other community members made the flags for pedestrians to use.
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State representative Andria Tupola said they did a trial run with the flags at three busy crosswalks, two of which were the scenes of fatal pedestrian accidents.
Flags were then placed at every crosswalk without a traffic signal last week and the initiative is picking up steam. “More community members are getting involved, educating their children, educating their school, their coworkers,” said Tupola. “The word is getting out about how to cross safer.
“We’re getting a lot of praise not only from pedestrians but from drivers. It’s easier to see our pedestrians when they’re walking across the street, day or night.”
Tupola says the flags are a step in the right direction, but still it’s a temporary solution until more can be done with the crosswalks. “The ones that are faded, those could be repainted, and the ones that are high usage could have the flashing lights so that cars know to stop.”
Until then, people like Kawelo will keep making the flags, even if it’s not easy. “I would say for maybe like 50 flags, it migh’tve taken us between one to three hours.” But it’s worth it to make a difference. “The more of us that’s interested, the more of us that’s willing to help.
“We cannot give up. We gotta keep going,” she said.