HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Work will begin in less than two weeks on a new protected bicycle lane that supporters say will increase bike use and safety.
The protected lane, to be known as the King Street Cycle Track, will take over the left hand lane of South King Street from Alapai Street downtown to Isenberg Street near the University area. The project was presented at a public meeting Thursday night.
Plastic bollards and a small asphalt bump will prevent motor vehicles from entering the lane, and parking will be moved to the next lane over.
Even bicyclists say it will take a little getting used to.
"We're going to try to educate cyclists and drivers how to use this safely because it doesn't meant that automatically you're immune from injury," said Chad Taniguchi, executive director of the Hawaii Bicycling League.
At intersections and driveways, the pavement will be painted green as a reminder to motorists and pedestrians, and signs will be posted along the route.
Currently, Oahu has 46 miles of bike paths, 54 miles of bike lanes, and 40 miles of bike routes.City transportation officials have been trying to make Honolulu's roadways more bike-friendly, and recently added a bike lane to Waialae Avenue in Kaimuki, but this bicycle track will be different.
Officials had already allowed parking on the makai side of South King for a year to see if removing a lane during rush hour would affect traffic.
"So we took away a lane. It didn't have any significant impact on traffic during rush hour, so we think it's going to be okay, but we'll find out," said Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
There are other concerns as well from motorists, including the possible cost of the pilot project.
"As a driver in Honolulu with all the potholes, I'd appreciate a hundred-thousand dollars fixing the potholes first, rather than bicycles first," said Art Eberhardt.
Transportation officials said the time for studies is over, and that the city should do something to increase bicycle safety. Work will begin Sept. 8, and the city hopes to have the bicycle track ready by the end of November.
"If it works, we're going to leave it and make it a little better, but in a more permanent infrastructure," said Caldwell. "If it doesn't work and people don't ride or it causes congestion, we can always take it out."
Bicyclists believe it will become permanent.
"This is going to change the way Honolulu views cycling," said Taniguchi. "And we think it's just the first of many."