Ala Wai Blvd. Scenery And Signage

It sounds like the city officials are considering multiple languages to be used on driver’s license tests and more signs to warn tourists and residents about dangerous driving conditions while navigating our highways and byways.

Up to 11 different languages are being suggested.

It’s an interesting proposal for a lot of reasons. For any motorist to read and heed all the signs on Kalakaua Avenue would be a challenge. Kalakaua is one-way and crammed with every kind of transportation imaginable – tour buses, sidewalk entertainers, jaywalkers, buses, cabs, mopeds, emergency vehicles, and lots and lots of cars.

Having said that, I would call attention to the scenic, one-way Ala Wai Boulevard.

If you start at the Waikiki Library and navigate to the McCully Bridge, it’s about 1.5. miles. If there is moderate traffic, it would take five minutes to drive from one end to the other. The posted speed limit is 25 mph with a stretch of 35 mph at the ewa end as you get closer to the Convention Center.

At that speed, if you were a conscientious driver, you’d have to read and comprehend 207 signs, 96 on the mauka side, of which 42 would be symbols and 54 worded messages. There would be another 111 on the makai side, of which 51 would be symbols and 60 would be words. Ninety percent of the messages of the street names are in Hawaiian only. It is a daunting task requiring the skills of a speed reader.

Some of the signs are confusing in any language.

My personal favorite is five messages on one pole that give you directions to the parking for the Convention Center, where to turn off the Ala Wai to get to Ala Moana/airport, where no parking starts and where you can expect to find paid public parking.

There are other distractions on Ala Wai Boulevard. You have joggers on the mauka side along the canal, golfers hitting their golf balls in the murky canal, canoe paddlers and kayaks practicing, even a large government sewage drain either being maintained, removed or cut into pieces. It’s an exciting canal no matter how you see it.

These are all distractions to safe driving. Adding more languages and signs would mean more distractions, not to mention some sign poles that start displaying warning signs from about six feet and reach into the sky at 15 feet.

Drive carefully, read quickly and learn English and Hawaiian for added comprehension.