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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, June 1, 2006

Disabled access blocked

By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser Columnist

Q. I live in Hawai'i Kai and have a question about the sidewalks on Kalaniana'ole Highway near Kalani High School. The state went through the expense of widening the sidewalks for disabled access. Since then about 15 bus stops and signs went in on posts in the middle of the walkways. I think that makes it too narrow for handicapped access. What happened?

A. State Transportation Department spokesman Scott Ishikawa said his department's Office of Civil Rights staff members went out to survey the sidewalks and bus stops along both sides of Kalaniana'ole Highway, and the intersections fronting Kalani High School after you asked this question.

And they found problems: Two benches blocked the route for wheelchair users, leaving less than the 36 inches required by the federal Americans With Disabilities Act, which meant someone seated on the bench would have to move to allow someone in a wheelchair to pass; one of the benches blocks access to a public phone, as did a new trash container next to one of the benches.

Ishikawa said the benches and trash container weren't there last year and they're checking to see who may have installed them. Those that are blocking access will need to be removed.

After that, "we may need to assess the entire stretch of Kalaniana'ole Highway to see if this problem occurs elsewhere," Ishikawa said.

Q. I live in Kailua and regularly see a Roberts school bus stopping on Keolu Drive in the morning to pick up students. The bus has school bus lights but the driver doesn't turn them on to stop for pickup. I stop behind the bus anyway because it seems safer, but people honk or drive around me. Why wouldn't the bus driver use the flashing school bus lights during pickup?

A. Roberts Hawaii Managing Director Robert Moore said those red warning lights should be flashing whenever the bus is loading and unloading students. "There is a sign on (the bus') back end that says 'Unlawful to pass when red lights flashing,' " he said. But if the driver is parked without actively loading and unloading students, Moore said he or she should put on only the hazard lights, which don't require a full stop from drivers. Moore said sometimes the driver will wait before starting pickups and that's why you might see a bus without the flashing stop lights. Moore said he was glad to hear your comment and awareness of the laws and procedures to help keep schoolchildren safe.

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