Taking his 16-month-old grandson Iokepa on outings in his stroller not only is fun, says Ron Lockwood, but he’s able to spot safety and accessibility problems on the streets of his Moiliili neighborhood on Oahu.
See Also: Successful Aging in Hawaii: A Survey of Developers, Landowners and Other Land Use Stakeholders
“Pushing a stroller has given me a more pointed view of my community,” says Lockwood, 63, an AARP mobility advocate and member of the McCully Moiliili Neighborhood Board. “Why isn’t there an ADA (American Disabilities Act) curb cut here? Why isn’t there a sidewalk there? These things need further examination.”
People-friendly transportation policies are especially important given Hawaii’s aging population. Over the next two decades the number of residents age 65 and older statewide is projected to swell to about 327,000. For a state identified as one of the most dangerous in the country for pedestrians 65+, there’s a pressing need for plans to take into account the dangerous mix of people and cars on Hawaii’s roads.
AARP has been working with stakeholders and community groups to make our roads safer and more user-friendly. In 2009 AARP spearheaded passage of a Complete Streets law recognizing the need to maintain access and mobility for all users of public roadways. Act 54 requires state and county transportation departments to accommodate access and mobility for all users of public highways, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, motorists, and persons of all abilities.
That law coincided with the release of a national transportation report by AARP’s Public Policy Institute titled “Planning Complete Streets for an Aging America”. The report warned that two-thirds of American transportation planners and engineers had yet to begin addressing the needs of older people in their planning.
Since then attention has focused on bringing the counties into compliance, and Kauai County has taken the lead. In 2010 Kauai passed a resolution requiring the county to develop a Complete Streets policy and has since then reviewed and rewritten roadway standards and re-examined building and development codes.
Attention has shifted now to Oahu, where volunteer advocates have met with members of the Honolulu City Council and drafted a Honolulu Complete Streets ordinance that is expected to come before the Council in March.
One of the volunteers leading the charge for the ordinance is Tom Dinell, emeritus professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
"Complete Streets is about more than adding bike lanes, making cross walks safer, planting more trees, and including median strips, important as all these steps are in making our streets more accessible for all users,” said Dinell. “It’s about creating a more civil society in which we truly relate to one another and care for one another."
Volunteer to be part of our effort to implement Complete Streets by contacting AARP Hawaii at 808-545-6003.