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Safe Routes for People in Hawai‘i

The problem:
Many neighborhoods in Hawai‘i still lack the infrastructure to allow keiki to safely walk, roll, bike, or bus to school. This has been worsened by the pandemic, with increased school bus driver shortages both in Hawai‘i and nationally, leaving some students stranded. These disruptions can force children to stay home from school or parents to sacrifice their work to take their kids to school.

The lack of complete, safe, and comfortable bike and pedestrian networks puts keiki at risk. An analysis of Hawai‘i EMS calls (below) found that pedestrian and bicyclist injuries to children are most likely to occur in the hours they are traveling to and from school.

Distribution of hour* of dispatch for Hawaii EMS calls for injuries to pedestrians, by patient age group, 2012 through 8/2017
Distribution of hour* of dispatch for Hawaii EMS calls for injuries to bicyclists, by patient age group, 2012 through 8/2017

Take Action Now:

How To Submit Testimony

  1. Log-in/make an account on the Capitol website.
  2. Type in the bill number in the upper left corner of the bill page.
  3. Click on the “Submit Testimony” button in the upper right corner.
  4. Upload or write your testimony on why you SUPPORT safe routes.
  5. On-time testimony is due 24 hours before the hearing, but late testimony will be accepted until the start of the hearing.

Bill: HB 600

  • Develop a statewide committee that will be responsible for creating Safe Routes to School strategic plan with clear goals.
  • Create a position for a statewide coordinator who will be able to support local communities in delivering equity-focused Safe Routes to Schools projects and programming.
  • Ensure Hawaii will be able to take full advantage of all the money that comes through the Federal Department of Transportation for the Safe Routes to School efforts.

Committee: Senate Committee on Transportation and Culture and the Arts
Date/Time: Thursday, March 16, at 3:00 PM Hearing Notice

Bill: SB 1506, SD2

  • Funds safe routes will create a new Safe Routes Fund, mandate 5% of all State Highway projects will fund protected walkways and bikeways, appropriate funds for a full-time safe routes to school coordinator within HDOT, and $50M from State of Hawaiʻi 2023/25 budget will be earmarked for Safe Routes programs and projects.
  • Provides transparency, accountability, and collaboration by establishing a Statewide Safe Routes Committee to recommend Safe Routes plan, goals, objectives, strategies, and outcomes and requires an annual report to the state legislature.
  • Supports the State’s climate goals, health goals, and equity goals by reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2045 (State Climate Commission Goal), increasing the total miles of low-stress pedestrian infrastructure by 50 miles (Department of Health), and eliminating disparate outcomes by race and ethnicity across all sectors.

Committee: House Committee on Transportation
Date/Time: Thursday, March 16, at 10:00 AM Hearing Notice

Talking Points:

  • All road users are entitled to being safe.
  • Traffic-related deaths have increased over the past decade. In 2014 there were 95 deaths, while 2022 saw 117 deaths (DOH).
  • When we prioritize road safety from keiki to kūpuna, everyone benefits.
  • Impactful and funded safe routes strategies are necessary to improve road safety in Hawai‘i.
  • This bill calls for a variety of strategies to be put in place such as protected walkways, better signage, safety devices, and protected bikeways, and it calls for sufficient funding of those projects.
  • Improving safety for people to ride, walk or roll increases the opportunities for everyone to safely increase physical activity, which in turn positively impacts health and helps to address the root causes of many chronic diseases.
  • While state level data is limited, the proportion of students across the U.S. in grades K–8 who walk or bike to school fell from 48% in 1969 to only 13% in 2009.
  • When states prioritize road safety through systemic programming, there is increased walking and biking to and from school.
    • The percentage of students who walked to and from school increased from 7-8 percent to 15-16 percent.
    • The percentage of students who biked to and from school increased from one percent to two percent.
  • A 2014 evaluation of state-level safe routes projects found that they were associated with significant increases in active school travel (from 12.9 percent to 17.6 percent), walking (from 9.8 percent to 14.2 percent), and bicycling (from 2.5 percent to 3.0 percent).
  • Safe streets efforts can be even more important for subpopulations such as children with a disability or those that live in low-income neighborhoods.