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LETTER: Hawaii Bicycling League Weighs in on Kihei Fatality

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By Chad Taniguchi, executive director
Hawaii Bicycling League

File photo.

File photo.

Tragic and Needless Cyclist Death on Maui: Drivers Must Use Extra Caution for Vulnerable Users!

The Hawaii Bicycling League extends our condolences to the family of Karl Hagen, who was hit from behind (by a truck driver who didn’t stay in the lane), and was killed Saturday [April 12], on [Pi’ilani] Highway, Kihei. Karl was hit while bicycling in a bike lane, a separated space for bicyclists to ride that should be safe from motorists.

Apply the Vulnerable User Law

The Hawaii Bicycling League calls for the application of the state’s Vulnerable User Law in this case. When a motorist breaks the law and kills or seriously injures a pedestrian, bicyclist, wheelchair user, road worker, police officer, or other person on the street (who is following the law), the lawbreaking motorist is subject to more severe punishment, such as elevating a misdemeanor to a felony. The purpose of the Vulnerable User Law is to remind all motorists to exercise extra care whenever they are driving near vulnerable users. Our human bodies are no match for a vehicle weighing 20-50 times more than us, traveling at a speed that increases the force of impact into a deadly blow.

Pedestrians and Bicyclists Must Also Follow the Law


While motorists need to be vigilant, vulnerable users must also follow the law, as Karl was doing, and watch out for hazards on the road, including cars and trucks. Bicyclists also have a duty to treat pedestrians with extra care.

Everyone Has the Right to Be Safe on Our Roads

Advocating for safety on Hawaii’s roads is a tradition that goes back to King Kamehameha, and very likely before him. Public roads and trails are for everyone to use and we have a mutual obligation to each other to use roads safely. Kamehameha proclaimed the Law of the Splintered Paddle (Mamalahoe Kanawai) in 1797, which stands for the principle that everyone has the right to be safe on Hawaii’s roads. “E hele a moe i ke ala.” .This was made part of the Hawaii State Constitution in 1978.

Learn to Drive Safely Around Pedestrians and Bicyclists

The Hawaii Bicycling League is a 39-year old Hawaii 501c3 nonprofit whose mission is to enable more people to ride bicycles for health, recreation and transportation through advocacy, education, and events. Please see to see the range of education, advocacy, and events to promote safe and enjoyable cycling. Bicycling is fun, healthy, environmentally friendly, and saves money. The Hawaii Bicycling League teaches a workshop called Walk Bike Drive, which teaches motorists how to be careful and safe around bicyclists and pedestrians.


Keep the No-Cellphone-While-Driving Law Strong and Effective

There are many ways drivers can cause crashes — by being impaired (drugs, alcohol, sleepy), by being distracted (cellphones, talking, eating, reading, makeup while driving), by speeding and rushing, by being inattentive, among others. (It isn’t clear what exactly happened in the Hagen tragedy). One positive step, however, was the adoption in 2013 of a law making it illegal to hold a cellphone while driving, that has resulted in many citations, which strongly remind drivers that distracted driving is illegal and dangerous!

The Hawaii Bicycling League, police, and prosecutors, and many concerned people are fighting to keep strong Hawaii’s “no use of cellphone while driving” law (HRS 291C-137) by retaining the principle that holding a cellphone while driving a car must be banned. Cellphone use should only occur when a driver is off the roadway with the car motor off. Proposed amendments threaten to make the law unenforceable. See testimonies on SB2729, and HB1509.

Tell Rep Yamane and Senator English You Want the No Cellphone Law Kept Strong!

Please support keeping the bill strong to eliminate distracted driving, which is dangerous and deadly. Please tell the House & Senate Transportation Committee Chairs Representative Ryan Yamane [email protected] 808-586-6150 and Senator Kalani English [email protected] 808-587-7225 that you want to keep the current law as is to prevent future roadway deaths from cellphone use.


Bicycle Aloha! Chad

Executive director Hawaii Bicycling League 3442 Waialae Ave Suite 1, Honolulu, HI 96816
[email protected] cell 808 255 8271 office 808 735 5756 fax 808 735 7989

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