A University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Department of Urban and Regional Planning (DURP) graduate student was honored as Advocate of the Year by the Hawaii Bicycling League (HBL) at their annual dinner held at the Waikīkī Aquarium in February.
Anthony Chang lost his sister in March 2013. Emelia Hung died tragically at the age of 24 after being struck by a car while crossing the street.
“[Anthony’s] passion for creating safer streets and willingness to pour [his] energy into showing up to hearings, contributing to solution meetings and always speaking up for safe streets projects and policy has contributed tremendously to HBL‘s advocacy efforts and the push to create safer streets for people who walk and bike and everyone,” said Daniel Alexander, DURP alumni and co-executive director of HBL.
Since Hung’s death, Chang has been deeply motivated to continue his study and contributions to transportation safety.
“This award, like laws and infrastructure I try to help pass, is an extension of her memory, Emelia’s epitaph,” said Chang. “Besides being my only sister, she was my closest friend, and continues to be my greatest inspiration. The award is deeply personal, and a good beginning to my advocacy.”
Networking proved beneficial to Chang as a commuter advocate. Chang, who began his advocacy in late 2016, was introduced to Alexander in 2017 and found that HBL worked on creating safer street infrastructure and legislation, including protecting pedestrians from vehicular accidents. He officially became an HBL member in January 2018.
“I did not know what to make of HBL at first, but we’ve had a great working relationship,” Chang stated. “They’re authentic, enthusiastic, passionate. Daniel has been steadfast about making streets safer.”
Chang was also introduced to DURP professors Peter Flachsbart and Makena Coffman in late 2016, and after looking into the program for a year and being encouraged by Alexander, he decided to apply and started his DURP journey in fall 2018. Coffman helped Chang secure a scholarship during his first year which solidified his decision to attend UH Mānoa.
Now anticipating graduation in December 2020, Chang will be taking PLAN 642 taught by Professor Suwan Shen where he and his classmates will participate in the Commute Challenge that works toward transitioning to environmentally friendly forms of transportation. He is also writing an exit paper on transportation safety inequity on Oʻahu. Flachsbart, Coffman and Shen sit on the DURP capstone committee, and Chang credits them for his involvement, evolution and growth at DURP.
“[My paper] deals with traffic collisions and how they disproportionately affect historically disenfranchised groups on Oʻahu—women, the poor, Native Hawaiians—spatially and per capita population wise,” said Chang. “Traffic deaths annually outnumber murders in Hawaiʻi by a ratio of 3:1. All traffic deaths are preventable, we need only the will to act.”