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Hawai'i Complete Streets Policy


Dissemination Category: Hawaii Complete Streets Policy is an emerging intervention based on its use of evidence-based strategies. Developed in practice, it shows promise but evidence in support of effectiveness is not yet available.

Intent of the intervention:  The intent of Hawaii Complete Streets Policy1 is to redesign Hawaii’s built environment to support active transportation.  In 2009, the Hawaii legislature amended state statutes to require the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) and Hawaii’s four county transportation departments to adopt complete streets policies that accommodate all users of the roadways, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, motorists and persons of all ages and abilities.

Hawaii Complete Streets is a state-level policy focusing on changes to the physical environment that can lead to increased physical activity (walking and biking) by individuals and families. Since the policy’s evaluation is preliminary, it is considered an emerging intervention.

Intended Population:  All users of the road, including pedestrians, cyclists, and operators of motorized vehicles

Setting(s): All communities

Background: Hawaii’s interest in passing complete streets legislation stemmed from both health and safety concerns, including physical inactivity contributing to increased obesity rates and the lack of sidewalks, inadequate crosswalks, and bicycle lanes contributing to high pedestrian and bicyclist fatality rates.

Using the socio-ecologic model as a framework, the Healthy Hawaii Initiative2 (HHI) worked with contractor Mark Fenton to develop a series of meetings, planning sessions, and workshops to build grassroots support for the passage of statewide complete streets legislation.  Activities spanned 22 months between 2007 and 2009, and involved multiple stakeholders, including educational outreach for legislators and collaborative planning sessions with advocates.  In January 2009, complete streets (and safe routes to school) legislation were introduced in the Hawaii State Legislature.  Advocacy groups monitored the bill’s progress, testified at hearings, and assisted in rewording the bill.  In June 2009, the Complete Streets legislation was signed into law. 

Length of time in the field: Legislation signed into law June 2009; effective date January 1, 2010

1 The content of Hawaii Complete Streets policy review and translation is tailored for public health practitioners. While other professionals may find this document useful, it is not intended as a review and translation of Complete Streets policy implementation from the perspective of state and local departments of transportation.

2 Launched in 2000, Healthy Hawaii Initiative (HHI) is a statewide effort focused on reducing three core behaviors that contribute to chronic disease: smoking, inactivity and poor diet. HHI is funded by Tobacco Settlement funds.