The Dangers Of Sharing The Road

Larry Price
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Wednesday - August 11, 2005
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Being a good motorist in Honolulu is getting more complex every day.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how unenforceable the new crosswalk law was going to be for Honolulu Police Department officers. I also mentioned how difficult it was going to be for the public to get educated about the new law because of the way it is written.

In Honolulu, it seems like pedestrians think the orange hand on the traffic lights means “Hi.” They walk right through with no regard for motorists trying to get by. I’m assuming most pedestrians realize that cars are made of metal and are very heavy so there is no point in challenging someone by violating their rights in the crosswalk.

The HPD is good at keeping the motorist on the straight and narrow. Do you remember the “Click it or Ticket” campaign? In just a couple of weeks everyone had their seat belts on.

The police department also does a good job with its drunk driving checkpoints during the holidays and hours of darkness.

I humbly suggest it is time to do the same for the pedestrians. It’s time for them also to play the safety game. Many pedestrians are killed trying to get across our highways and byways. Our roads are dangerous.

And while I agree with the new laws, I wish everyone would be forced to obey them, not just motorists in cars, but people on mopeds, bicycles and those trying to make a buck.

I’m specifically referring to newspaper hawkers. On Sundays mornings they are on every corner in downtown Honolulu. They have a pile of papers to sell on the sidewalk and most of them have on red traffic vests. They are especially brave in their sales technique. They walk right out into traffic, in between cars to offer their product.

They are admirable for their durability. Rain or shine they are selling their papers. Some of them have good technique, especially on Sunday, when the paper is more expensive. Most motorists don’t carry quarters, and few can stand the pressure of the traffic lights changing to green. So it’s always entertaining when you give the newspaper salesperson $2 and he says (as the light is changing), “Do you want change?” It’s like a bad joke. You would think they would have a few quarters in their pocket, just to assist in moving the traffic along.

Some of the other “medial strip” distractions for motorists are the panhandlers. These people hang out at intersections around town with big cardboard signs asking for handouts.

The signs say things like, “Will work for food.” “I am cripple and I’m homeless. Please help me.” The signs always say, “God bless you for your help.”

Some of these expert panhandlers parade back and forth through the intersections around town using a kind of in-your-face technique.

One of the most aggressive techniques is employed by a homeless Asian man in his 40s who runs between cars stopped at the junction of Dillingham Boulevard and King Street adjacent to the Jack in the Box Restaurant. When the three lanes of traffic are stopped he goes up to each driver and asks them for money. He is remarkably successful at both collecting money and dodging traffic.

I have no problem with panhandlers. I think it is time to even the playing field for the beleaguered motorists. They have to share the road with every bicyclist, sweat in traffic waiting for a parade or a street race to pass, make sure to honor all of the road closures and tunnel repairs and be patient when one water main after another ruptures and tears up the pavement.

Where motorists are concerned right now, when they are right, no one remembers. When they are wrong, no one forgets — and that’s not fair. The pedestrians should be educated to understand the highway is a bad place to argue about the right-of-way.

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