Ulupono Initiative applauds signing of transportation bills

Jul 28, 2023

Ulupono Initiative applauded Gov. Josh Green’s signing into law important transportation-related bills, specifically two measures that strengthen the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School Program and the newly renamed State Highway Safety and Modernization Council.

Regarding HB 600 HD1 SD2 CD2, which establishes the Safe Routes to School Advisory Committee, Kathleen Rooney, Ulupono’s director of transportation policy and programs, said:

“Walking and biking in Hawai‘i have gotten progressively more dangerous in the last 20 years, and we ranked the 13th most dangerous state to walk and bike, according to Smart Growth America’s 2022 Dangerous by Design report.[1] An analysis of Hawai‘i EMS calls found that pedestrian and bicycling injuries to children are most likely to occur during the hours they are traveling to and from school.[2] Solutions range from new sidewalks, lighting and trails, to softer solutions like walking school buses, maps and trip trackers to encourage healthier active living. We applaud our Legislature for passing HB 600, fixing and simplifying the safe routes to schools program, re-engaging community stakeholders, and appropriating funds to move priority projects and save lives. The more we can support affordable options for keiki to get to school and protect them when they are walking and rolling, the better off our families and communities can be.”

Regarding SB 1086 SD2 HD2 CD1, which renames the State Highway Safety Council to the State Highway Safety and Modernization Council, Rooney said:

“In addition to renaming the State Highway Safety Council to the State Highway Safety and Modernization Council, our Legislature passed SB 1086 to strengthen the council’s composition and added important duties, such as ensuring transparency and providing guidance to the department and Legislature to help achieve state transportation goals and outcome.

“Although traffic fatalities have declined recently, this year’s numbers are still some of the highest in the past two decades mostly due to auto-centric road design, speeding from reduced peak congestion, and increasingly larger vehicles.[3] Hawai‘i is also experiencing this same troubling trend with over 115 deaths and 570 serious injuries in 2022, according to the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation.[4] Last year alone, Hawai‘i County’s fatalities tripled in just one year.[5] As Hawaiʻi’s transportation needs are increasingly complex and challenging, we appreciate this committee’s efforts to look at bolstering safety and helping implement evidence-based safety interventions.”

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[1] https://smartgrowthamerica.org/dangerous-by-design/

[2] https://www.hiphi.org/saferoutes2023/

[3] https://apnews.com/article/traffic-deaths-distracted-driving-crisis-6db6471e273b275920b6c4f9eb7e493b and https://www.vox.com/22675358/us-car-deaths-year-traffic-covid-pandemic

[4] https://highways.hidot.hawaii.gov/stories/s/Read-More-About-Safety-Goals-2023/eisc-ceus

[5] https://hidot.hawaii.gov/highways/safe-communites/