Opposing Viewpoints On Vision Zero During My Family’s 1st Hawaiian Vacation

As many of you know, my dad and I have opposing viewpoints on many controversial topics. Since our discussions frequently get heated and we were on vacation, I tried to avoid discussing controversial topics. Plus, the rest of my family does not feel comfortable engaging in these heated discussions. The below pedestrian safety issues were too much for me to hold my tongue, so my dad and I got into a heated discussion about Vision Zero. For those who do not know what Vision Zero is, the goal of Vision Zero is to achieve zero traffic fatalities. While my dad understands what Vision Zero means, we disagreed on whether it is a realistic goal, who should be held responsible if the goal is not achieved by the agreed upon date, and whether millions of dollars should be invested in a project to prevent one death.

My dad and I agreed that the pedestrian crossing flags shown in the below photos show that the government recognizes the safety issue and is trying to resolve the issue. I tried to convince my dad that pedestrian crossing flags have been proven to not prevent crashes. I found several intersections with pedestrian crossing flags on the Big Island. While I saw people walking in urban areas, cars dominated the suburban and rural areas. The Big Island has many pedestrian safety issues. As a conservative, my dad did not want to spend millions to prevent a crash from happening. This was especially true when we saw no one walking, which is seen in the top photo.

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Kona side of Hawaii Island (aka Big Island). Photo: Ray Atkinson.

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Kona side of Hawaii Island (aka Big Island). Photo: Ray Atkinson.

Since we drove on many highways with few pedestrian and bike crossings on Hawaii Island, we saw many people jaywalking. My dad felt I put too much responsibility on the driver to prevent crashing into the jaywalker and not enough responsibility on the pedestrian. I called him out for victim blaming because he felt the pedestrian should walk out of their way to find a crosswalk, which could be miles away. My dad did not appreciate being told that he was guilty of blaming the victim. Before I proceed, I want to clarify that most of the responsibility to prevent traffic deaths should be on the government. The government, especially the traffic engineer, must approve project designs before they can be built.

While my dad wanted me to keep the jaywalking discussion on US law, I kept trying to force us to discuss Dutch law. As this post shows, the Netherlands has no laws about jaywalking. Pedestrians in the Netherlands can legally cross the street anywhere. I would love to see US law changed to allow this!

Jaywalking US vs Netherlands

What is forbidden in one jurisdiction can be encouraged in another jurisdiction. Above: a card that was handed out in the 1920s in the US to discourage ‘jaywalking’. Below how the city of Utrecht would like pedestrians to use a street (yellow lines) that they reconstructed in 2014. Source: BicycleDutch

I do not want to end this post by giving the impression that all my dad and I did during our vacation was argue. While the partial federal government shutdown gave us plenty of other heated arguments, we had plenty of calm discussions. My family thanked me for the countless hours of research I did to find us things to do every day during our vacation. Since I wanted to explore two islands, I flew to and from Honolulu, which is on Oahu Island. I explored Oahu Island on two weekends and Hawaii Island (aka Big Island) with my parents and twin sister on Monday-Friday. My brother could not join us because he is in graduate school at Pfeiffer University’s Charlotte campus and recently started a new job in Charlotte. Here is a selection of photos from my vacation:

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My 2nd cousin (right) and his wife (center) with me at their Honolulu oceanview condo. Since the lighting is horrible, I need to learn how to take better photos. Photo: Ray Atkinson.

Digital Camera

Bike attachment possibly used to transport surfboard. Photo: Ray Atkinson

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Tour at Big Island Bees. Photo: Ray Atkinson

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We found green sea turtles at the Black Sand Beach. Photo: Ray’s dad.

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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Photo: Ray Atkinson

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My dad exchanged the Kannapolis Rotary Club banner for the Kona Mauka Rotary Club banner. I used to be a member of the Kannapolis Rotary Club. Photo: Ray Atkinson

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Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park. Photo: Ray Atkinson

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Rainbow Falls in Hilo. Photo: Ray Atkinson

Digital Camera

Whale and dolphin watching off Kona coast of Hawaii Island. Photo: Ray Atkinson

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Snorkeling in January! Photo: Ray’s dad

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Maori (indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand) dance at Polynesian Cultural Center. Photo: Ray Atkinson

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Learned how to make coconut oil at Polynesian Cultural Center. Photo: Ray Atkinson

I have other photos from my Hawaiian vacation, but I have shared my favorite photos. I am back in Oregon City wearing winter clothes. I enjoyed escaping the cold and gray skies by vacationing in Hawaii, so I plan to do it again someday.

Biking Across Unsignalized Intersection

Since my dad heard my passion for being a lawyer and critiquing the law when I young and still does, I’m not surprised this is my fourth consecutive blog post about Oregon laws. I took a legal planning course at PSU and have explained traffic laws to many pedestrians, cyclists and motorists in Portland over the past year so I still feel like I’m following my passion for understanding and critiquing the law without being a lawyer.

As the below award shows, which I received in 4th grade, I also had passions to be a meteorologist and geographer before switching to geography and urban planning in high school. You can read more about my career shifts in my previous blog post called “Advocating for Automobiles to Advocating for People”. My love for meteorology and geography came from watching weather maps on the local news and reading maps, which I began reading during a family trip to Charleston, SC in the 1990s (I was born in 1990). My dad asked my brother, sister and I who wanted to read the paper map (yes, I was alive before commercial use of GPS started) to navigate our trip to Charleston, SC. I raised my hand first so became and still am the family navigator.

Speaking of navigating, how do I safely navigate my bicycle across unsignalized intersections? The simple answer is to wait until I know it is safe for me to cross. I try to take this approach as often as possible. However, if I always approached unsignalized intersections this way it would take me several minutes to cross the road because most busy unsignalized intersections have a steady stream of automobile traffic. Due to the motorist’s blind zone, which is shown in the blue area in the below image, I wouldn’t feel safe crossing a multi-lane road until motorists in all lanes of traffic have fully stopped their automobile.

Motorist's blind spot is in the blue area

Motorist’s blind spot is in the blue area

Instead of all the motorists fully stopping their automobiles, I often find one motorist stopping and waiting for me to proceed through the intersection. Since I don’t immediately go, the motorist often signals with their hands for me to go or honks to make sure I understand they are getting impatient. Even though most motorists in Oregon likely don’t know it, they can be partially at fault for a collision with another vehicle if they encouraged someone to move. A cyclist actually sued two motorists for over $670,000 after one of the motorists hit her and another motorist encouraged the other motorist to proceed. The motorist that encouraged the motorist to proceed didn’t see the cyclist so thought it was safe for the motorist to proceed. This is why I don’t trust when a motorist motions for me to proceed through an unsignalized intersection.

To give you an idea about what type of unsignalized intersection I am having difficulty crossing on my daily bike commute to and from work, I have provided the below street view. SE 16th Avenue through this area has sharrows, marked crosswalks, and yield to cyclist and pedestrian signs so cyclists and pedestrians are encourages to use SE 16th Avenue. However, this doesn’t mean crossing E Burnside St is easier. Even though I don’t feel safe doing it, I have often had to start rolling my bike in front of approaching high speed automobile traffic because the automobile traffic wouldn’t stop unless I forced it to. Once I start recording my bike rides with a GoPro, which I plan to purchase for my birthday this weekend, I will start sharing video of how quickly automobile traffic stops for me at this intersection.

E Burnside St at SE 16th Ave

E Burnside St at SE 16th Ave

Thankfully, Oregon DOT has started a crosswalk campaign to educate motorists, cyclists and pedestrians about how every crosswalk, including marked and unmarked crosswalks, are legally covered by Oregon crosswalk law. The crosswalk law requires motorists to stop and remain stopped for cyclists and pedestrians at marked and unmarked crosswalks.

Oregon DOT Crosswalk Campaign

Oregon DOT Crosswalk Campaign

While crosswalk education is important, I would love to see a HAWK signal installed at E Burnside St and SE 16th Avenue to make crossing E Burnside St easier. Unfortunately HAWK signals are expensive so PBOT and ODOT likely prefer a marked crosswalk over a HAWK signal.

HAWK Signal

HAWK Signal