Members of a community initiative for pedestrian safety in Leeward Oahu say they’re not stopping despite being the target of vandalism.
Safety flags and holders for them have been placed at 25 crosswalks that don’t have traffic lights over a nine-mile stretch on Farrington Highway, there to help pedestrians safely cross the road.
Since May, three pedestrians have died while attempting to cross the busy roadway.
Now the flags have either been broken or stolen.
State representative Andria Tupola has been involved in this initiative since it first began, and she says whoever is messing with the flags won’t keep the group from fulfilling their mission to save lives.
“We’ve definitely had to replace flags at numerous (crosswalks),” she said. “I think we’ve replaced about 75 to 100, but we know now that this effort needs to be ongoing and slowly it will taper down.”
Safety flags are being broken in half and holders thrown on the ground — at some locations, the flags aren’t there at all.
Tupola said “I think the effort is what’s really costly, because the supplies and the cost is very minimal, but making sure there’s enough people that can actually come out here after work to try to replace flags or help me fix the holders (is what’s hard).”
Community members are now bolting the flag holders to the poles to keep vandals from tearing them off. We’re told this isn’t the first time that efforts to increase pedestrian safety have been targeted.
Prior to this initiative, a blinking traffic signal was set up at a crosswalk at the Makaha Surfside condo, but according to Tupola, “it had been dug out of the road and stolen.”
Still, the representative says the vandalism is only a minor hitch in the grand scheme of things.
“There’s not a price you can put on a life, and because so many lives and so many people have told me stories about how these flags have protected them or their family members, I think it’s worth it.”
The mischief of others won’t overshadow the determination of a community.
“You always have to know that there’s going to be somebody that doesn’t appreciate your work,” she said, “but there’s going to be five times, ten times more people that do appreciate your work.”