Friday
May082009

Pedaling Toward a Bicycle Safe Hawaii - Same Roads, Same Rules, Same Rights

Lack of physical activity, particularly among children, has raised concerns about the health of young and old alike. Diabetes and other diseases once only common in adults are now routinely diagnosed in children.

In addition, we have traffic problems in many places on Oahu. People think nothing of driving a mile or two to drop their children off at school.

Approximately 82 percent of trips five miles or less are made by car. Imagine the impact on traffic if those trips were made by bike or on foot.

On May 12, Hawaii will have its first-ever Bike and Walk to School Day. All schools are encouraged to participate in this event by asking parents, students and teachers to bike or walk to school. Participants can register at www.hawaiipedalpower.com to be eligible to win a commuter bicycle.

Over the past several years, the federal government has allotted Hawaii funds to be used under the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program. Approximately $3.5 million of these funds are currently available to schools and others interested in improving safety for bicyclists and pedestrians near schools. This is a comprehensive program that involves engineering, education, enforcement, evaluation and encouragement to improve the safety of our roadways and sidewalks. Bike and Walk to School Day can be used to make a preliminary survey or evaluation of ways to improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians. Let's get out of our cars and bike or walk with our children to school on this special day.

As a long-term solution to inactivity and traffic congestion, we need to look at how we design our communities and motivate people to travel from one location to another. Complete Streets is a policy that considers all users of our transportation system. Senate Bill 718, Complete Streets, has been sent to Governor Lingle. I urge her to sign it into law.

Natalie Iwasa, a.k.a. Bicycle Mom