Not everyone is a fan of the city’s plan to close Kalakaua Avenue to cars on 4 Sundays

Updated: Jun. 9, 2020 at 10:16 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some Waikiki residents are baffled that they weren’t consulted when it came to a plan to shut down Kalakaua Avenue for the next four Sunday mornings.

From 6 a.m. to noon, from Seaside to Kapahulu Avenues, Kalakaua Avenue will be off limits to drivers along with parking spaces on all the connecting one-way streets.

Instead, bicyclists, joggers, and walkers are welcomed.

It’s because The Hawaii Bicycling League is taking over, and they’re encouraging families to come ride, walk or run up and down the Avenue with no cars.

But the shutdowns are getting some pushback from residents who will have to give up their streets and parking spaces, yet again.

“I don’t understand how they can do this without any input from the public," surfer Tim Garry said. “I just felt like this particular situation was kind of pushed down our throats.”

In addition to giving people more room to exercise, the initiative is also a ploy to get locals to dine and shop in Waikiki.

Other major cities are doing it, including New York, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and Milan.

Area businesses are in favor of the closures.

“I think it’s a good idea. There’s not much traffic anyway on Sunday so we can have fun," said Darko Vidak, owner of La Vela wine bar.

“It’s a beautiful space. Not to have any traffic, no noise of the buses and cars, just be able to walk and enjoy it. it’s going to be fantastic," Waikiki board member Mark Garrity said.

But critics say four Sundays is too much — especially since the city closes Kalakaua 15 times a year for festivals, prompting numerous complaints.

And if the goal is to get more people to visit shops, why force vehicles to park even farther away?

“I really just see people coming into Waikiki just to access the beach and that is it," Garry said.

Another concern: The virus. After the recent uptick in cases does it make sense to encourage a public gathering?

"The city has shut down every street event probably through September. So I was really surprised with the gains we made on COVID situation, that we would be encouraged to have a street event with a lot of people Robery Finley of Waikiki said.

“I think we increase the possibilities of further contamination.”

HPD Special Duty Officers will be helping with traffic control. But drivers are advised to avoid the area and use alternate routes.

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