W.R. Farrington High Engineering Academy students help improve transportation and access near their school

Nov 10, 2020

In a typical day, more than 22,000 vehicles traverse the King Street corridor in Honolulu, including city buses transporting more than 36,000 riders (pre-pandemic). Sadly, over the past decade, the corridor’s substantial amount of motor vehicle traffic as it runs past W.R. Farrington High School has seen more than 40 motor vehicle crashes.  

Lighter traffic during the pandemic has in some cases actually made areas even more dangerous for pedestrians because car drivers feel more at liberty to speed. This is a precarious situation when our cities so often prioritize cars over people when it comes to designing and planning our outdoor spaces.

The incidences were among the primary catalysts for creating the Kalihi Quick Build street project, which last year concluded construction of six painted curb extensions on King Street near Farrington High School. The project was constructed in less than a year, utilizing flexible installation materials conceptualized to encourage safe walking, biking and transit. The City and County of Honolulu and Hawaii State Department of Health were the project’s primary funders, collaborating with community partners and quick-build experts to engage W.R. Farrington Engineering Academy program students in improving walkability in their community through the design of the newly painted curb extensions. Other project partners included the Blue Zones Project Hawaii, Councilmember Joey Manahan’s office, the National Park Service, StreetPlans, and Ulupono Initiative.

Positive results of everyone’s collective efforts on the project included decreasing pedestrian street-crossing distances by 15% to 40% and walk time in crosswalks by 15% to 20%. As a result, these changes help to increase pedestrian and driver safety.

Projects such as this also encourage active transportation, as opposed to reinforcing car-only travel. Creating protected spaces for walkers and bikers make these activities more desirable and likely. Walking is three times more common in a community with pedestrian-friendly streets than in otherwise comparable communities that are less conducive to foot travel.