“Congratulations, Honolulu, for battling a surge in pedestrian deaths by punishing prospective victims.”


The following words summarize the scandal-plagued Gahan administration’s approach (more accurately, its absence) in using Jeff Speck’s street study as a blueprint for “grid modernization,” or, the project that dare not mention “two-way streets” publicly.

If it bikes, blame it.
If it walks, marginalize it.
If it drives, subsidize it.
— Attributed to Dan Kostelec

In Honolulu’s case, walkers have graduated from marginalization to blame, though not unexpectedly, research doesn’t support the notion that pedestrian cellphones are the problem.

Rather, it’s just another way of cosseting subsidized drivers.

The Problem With Honolulu’s New Ban on Texting in Crosswalks, by Laura Bliss (CityLab)

Elderly pedestrians die at a higher rate in Honolulu than anywhere else. Their cellphones aren’t the issue.

 … Pedestrians can obviously insert themselves into dangerous situations by ignoring signals and walking into traffic—and they share responsibility in plenty of crashes. Using a cell phone while crossing the street can be a hazard, sure. Inherently dangerous to others, however, it is not.

Driving is. So are many of the streets designed to support it. And using a phone in the driver’s seat dramatically increases the chance of a crash. As the economy recovers, more cars are on the road, driving more miles—which translates to that many more people texting and chatting while navigating their two-ton steel boxes. The recent rash of pedestrian fatalities is not all that surprising.


The city’s overall rate of pedestrian deaths is on par with the national average; so is the state’s. Elderly folks also have a harder time recovering from traumatic injuries, and Hawaii’s 65-plus-set are considerably more active than their mainland counterparts. Older Honolulans die on the streets at a high rate not because they’re consumed by their cell phones, but, largely, because there are more of them navigating car-centric roads.