City makes improvements to traffic, pedestrian safety in Waikiki

Kalakaua Ave. (File photo)
Kalakaua Ave. (File photo)

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One of the busiest traffic intersections in Waikiki got a makeover Monday morning. The change not only helps reduce traffic, but is also helping pedestrians “dance” their way across the street.

Traffic at the intersection of Kalakaua Avenue and the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center can sometimes back up in Waikiki all the way to Ala Moana Boulevard.

“On a Friday or Saturday when there’s an event, it’s terrible. The cars can back up all the way to the Ala Wai bridge,” said Robert Finley, Waikiki Neighborhood Board.

So last year, the City began a traffic study in Waikiki to see if it could improve traffic congestion and pedestrian safety.

And the answer found was all in a “dance.”

Once the walking signal changes, not only can you cross both kitty corner, but walk across the whole intersection, which makes pedestrian traffic much easier.

The “Barnes Dance,” named after traffic engineer James Barnes, is an “All Pedestrian Phase” crossing. That means when the light is red, all traffic stops and the whole intersection is open to pedestrians to cross.

“It’s great. It makes life easier. You want to get from here to there. And now you just go,” Waikiki visitor Patreace Starr said.

This also allows greater traffic flow turning in to and out of the busy Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center.

“This is the worst traffic intersection in Waikiki as so we have had a lot of complaints from business and residents trying to get into Waikiki,” said Rick Egged, Waikiki Improvement Association.

The traffic dance is going to continue. Next Sunday, the City will turn the intersection at Kalakaua Avenue and Lewers Street into an all-way pedestrian crosswalk.

The City plans to monitor the traffic volume in the area for the next few months to see if the positive changes can be used at other intersections on Oahu.

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