Caldwell Unveils Scheme to make Traffic Even Worse
by Mary Smart
What is the number one complaint about Honolulu? Traffic. Honolulu has been recognized as having some of the most jammed streets and highways in the country. Now, in a misguided effort to force commuters out of their cars, the Caldwell Administration is taking steps to make sure that Honolulu traffic gets even worse.
The Honolulu Rail project's need for high density populations has become a rationale for turning our beautiful southern coastline into a condo canyon and intentionally reducing automobile throughput on the roads.
The Honolulu City Council met Thursday, February 27 at 9 AM in the Committee Meeting Room. On the agenda, Resolution 14-47 - the Waipahu Neighborhood Transit Oriented Development Plan - and Resolution 14-38 - 2139 Kuhio Project - which involves approving a 39 story 350 foot high condo-hotel.
On the same day the Transportation Committee met to make decisions on two projects guaranteed to make the traffic conditions worse than they are today. This includes Resolution 14-35 - Supporting BIKESHARE in the City and County of Honolulu. These bike sharing programs have been implemented in major cities in Canada and the USA. They are not profitable even with federal grants covering the capital costs of the bikes. There is significant cost in relocating bicycles from drop-off areas back to locations where they are needed.
It is not surprising that the primary vendor in several cities, Bixi, is having financial difficulties. Although only a year old, the New York City bike share program is looking for another $14 million from investors.
The plan for Waikiki bike share is to place approximately 1,700 bikes at 180 bike pick-up/drop-off locations. $250,000 in seed money is needed in Hawai'i before an Executive Director and only afterward can acquisition of the bikes and bike stations begin.
There are approximately 19,000 bike deaths and injuries each year. As the population of Honolulu ages, a fleet of bicycles on our already busy streets seems impractical, dangerous, and wasteful. Bike riding is touted for its health benefits but studies have shown that when bike riders are on busy streets, they are exposed to more pollution than car passengers.
RESOLUTION 14-46--Urging the Mayor to make the Beretania, Young and King Streets corridor a priority project for implementing the City’s Complete Streets policy, and to incorporate the recommendations put forth by the “BYK Project” in planning, design and construction--could be even more disruptive to local commuters on Honolulu traffic thoroughfares.
If passed, 14-46 would further hinder the ability of people to efficiently travel through the island. Mainland concepts such as "complete streets" and "transit oriented development" (TOD) have the goal is to reduce auto capacity and slow traffic rather than expedite it. A recent TOD presentation to the council includes a video where the speakers mention "car free days". That doesn't mean that you can drive and park for free. It means that you will NOT be ALLOWED to drive on those days. It happens in Europe already.
There projects are planned throughout the City of Honolulu. Kakaako is one of the first locations targeted for complete streets and TOD. The project is called the Kakaako Community Development District (KCDD). You can see the plan here and the draft of the six street overlay plan here. On page 6.12 KCDD planners state: "private autos are considered the lowest priority in KCDD's modal hierarchy…." Lanes for autos are reduced to make lanes for mass transit and bicycles.
Although this TOD design is touted for safety, many pedestrians and bikers have related that the design for separate bike lanes is less safe than current configurations because there is confusion when crossing or turning at an intersection and both bicyclist and motorists are more likely to ride/drive in an unsafe fashion. As stated by Hawaii Bicycling League Chad Taniguchi, “Of course, the drivers when they turn left from King street to go mauka have to watch for the cyclists and cyclists as they’re going straight or making turns have to watch out for the cars.”
Bike Paths and Lanes: The Case Against