Prioritizing people, not cars.
Sponsored by Ulupono Initiative
Hawaii faces a climate and street safety crisis. Both can be addressed simultaneously — through more active transportation spaces that provide safer spaces for people’s travel, especially for children and vulnerable users. However, communities can’t wait for every street to be reconfigured through lengthy construction processes — and they don’t have to!
HI Now host Kainoa Carlson visited the Papipi Road quick build project in Ewa Beach. As the community has grown, development typically prioritized roadways and spaces for cars, with people as a mere afterthought.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than half the 800 students at nearby Ewa Beach Elementary School walked to school and another 50 took the bus. From 2010 to 2015, daily traffic counts along Papipi Road increased by nearly 50 percent and the neighborhood population has grown from 8,300 in 2010 to 14,000 in 2019.
Quick build projects, by definition, take less time to plan and implement (often under a year) and use flexible installation materials such as paint and moveable barriers to support walking, biking, and transit now. Although smaller in scale than large streetscape projects, creating protected spaces for walkers and bikers helps make these activities more desirable and likely. Walking is three times more common in a community with pedestrian-friendly streets than in otherwise comparable communities that are less conducive to foot travel. So if walking conditions improve, then more people will feel safe and walk.
Within this larger walkshed, there are more than 1,800 bus riders and 300 bike riders, with 3-5 estimated crashes per year. In 2015, the Ewa Beach community developed a Complete Streets plan to help connect the community more seamlessly with the elementary school and make the corridor safer for people, but little had been implemented since its development beyond a four-way stop sign. One recommendation was to improve the busy intersection of Papipi Road and Kapolei Parkway/Hailipo Street, an important connector for schools and the local commercial center. At this location, the current treatments were incomplete or ineffective.
Consequently, Blue Zones Project Hawaii collaborated with many community partners, funders, and advocates to install vibrant, culturally grounded and high-impact curb extensions and delineators, helping to spur the City and County of Honolulu to mark a crosswalk to the bus stop.
The result is a space that prioritizes people, not cars. Crossing distance and crossing time were both reduced, significantly improving safety and making the area more inviting to walk — which is an under-appreciated but critical factor in whether people will or will not choose to walk.
For more information on Blue Zones Project Hawaii, visit: info.bluezonesproject.com/bzphawaii. You can also follow on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram: @bzphawaii