BY FRANCES NUAR – Honolulu City Council Woman Ann Kobayashi has got to be kidding us. But April Fool’s Day was last month, so I’m afraid she’s serious about her bill to ban using a cell phone while crossing a street.

The actual text of  the bill in question states:

A person shall not use a mobile electronic device while crossing a street or highway.

Consider the implications of such a bill becoming law.

Scenario one: You’re  determined to make that New Year’s resolution to get in shape a reality. You are running through Chinatown and at every corner you must stop, take out your headphones, shut your phone off, cross the street, turn it back on, and continue. Laughable, to say the least. Or you could just walk a few blocks to the bar… so much for that resolution.

Scenario two: You are meeting up with a friend in Waikiki for dinner. You’re not sure where the restaurant is exactly, so you call for directions as you are walking in the general vicinity. You’re on hold for a few minutes, and just as the hostess gets on the line to instruct you, you step into the street and must hang up on her. No dinner for you!

Scenario three: You like to talk on your phone. You talk on your phone while walking, killing two birds with one stone: catching up with friends and family and getting some exercise. Time to call mom and tell her your weekly phone calls are on hold until the City Council finds something more important to do than ban cell phone usage.

What next? Designating “cell-phone usage areas” like smoking areas, regulated to those few places the City Council deems safe?

Honolulu City Council has got to have more important things to focus on than regulating and restricting yet another aspect of our lives. Infrastructure anyone? Or maybe Ann is thinking that because the roads are so terrible, shutting off one’s cell phone while crossing the road will allow one to focus on more important things–like dodging the potholes.

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Frances Nuar works for the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. She has worked as a capitol correspondent for Hawaii Reporter. Reach her at Frances@grassrootinstitute.org