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UHPA Supports the Bike Lane on King Street; however. . .

If you plan to visit the UHPA office by way of King Street, please be cautious of the new bike lane on the mauka side of the street.  UHPA Executive Director J. N. Musto sends a cautionary letter to Mayor Caldwell in regards to the bike lane.

Dear Mayor Caldwell,

This letter is a follow-up to our conversation with respect to the impact of the new bike lane on King Street. The offices of UHPA are located off of Palm Drive which is a one-way street connecting Young Street to King Street and in between Keeaumoku and Piikoi.

First of all, I want to applaud you for your effort to create a dedicated bike lane. It’s unfortunate that the City and County of Honolulu delayed so long the creation of bike lanes which could have much more easily been adapted during the last four decades of road improvements and changes in our highway system. (I would add to my description of lost opportunities by pointing out that there were large urban property locations that the city had owned or could have acquired that would have offered permanent green islands amongst the growing towers of condominiums. And connecting these parks with dedicated bike lanes would have been an urban development dream; always easier to see things in hindsight.)

That being said, the King Street bike lane is a potentially very dangerous arrangement as long as you continue to allow on-street parking on the mauka side of the bike lane. One of the most serious locations where on-street parking blocks the crossing of the bike lane into streets and property driveways is at the location by Straub Hospital. However, in our neighborhood the one-way connecting streets of Palm Drive and Akala Lane present the same dangers. It is difficult to see the oncoming diamond head bound traffic because of the parked cars, and it is also difficult to see both the bike riders and the pedestrians when turning off of King Street into Akala Lane.

I understand the pressures from the commercial locations on the mauka side of King Street wanting street parking, but everything comes with a cost. In this case, the price of the bike lane is the loss of mauka on-street parking if you are going to prevent serious accidents and injuries going forward. I am sure others have also noted that despite the bike traffic being required to maintain the same one-way direction as vehicle traffic, the bike lane is used as frequently in the ewa direction as it is going diamond head. I have also personally noted that the bike lane seems to give some riders the idea that they can travel at excessive speeds, and travel more randomly in and out of the lane at intersections rather than obey what are the obvious restrictions that should apply when using the bike lane. Mopeds have also been seen using the bike lane. How the city will be able to enforce the proper use of the bike lane is a difficult question to answer and, unfortunately, might only come after a tragic accident that gets broad news coverage.

I am recommending that you continue the bike lane as it has been established with the removal of the on-street parking. In addition, I would suggest that you consider police bicycle patrols along the bike lane with the equipment that the police force utilizes in Waikiki.

If I can be of any help during this period of evaluation by your office of the bike lane or in subsequent public hearings related to this issue, please let me know. Thank you for your foresight in this and other matters dealing with the public policies of our city. I encourage you to continue to keep thinking beyond that which we are just used to.

J. N. Musto, Ph.D
Executive Director