Ala Wai street project gets favorable reaction, but concerns about traffic persist

Part of the proposal would take away one lane from motor vehicle traffic.
Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 9:21 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 26, 2022 at 10:18 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Ala Wai Boulevard is a very busy thoroughfare where motor vehicles have had priority. But the city wants to shift that priority more toward bicyclists and pedestrians.

“The proposed changes include a two-way protected bikeway, curb extensions, additional pedestrian crossings, pedestrian crossing beacons, (and a) speed limit reduction to 25 miles per hour,” said Drusilla Van Hangel with Nelson/Nygaard, a consulting group that worked on the proposal.

All those changes will comes at the expense of drivers, who currently have three traffic lanes on the one-way boulevard.

About half the stretch — from Kapahulu Avenue to Nohonani Street — would be reduced to two lanes to make room for the two-way bike lane.

“Ala Wai Boulevard is 90% allocated to cars,” said Christopher Tipton, who said he uses the Waikiki area bike lanes at least once a week.

“They have three driving lanes and a parking lane, and right now, of the entire stretch, about three feet? That’s how wide the painted bicycle lane is.”

“Just in general there’s not enough bike lanes in Waikiki and there’s too many cars that don’t pay attention to bikes, so it pushes them on the sidewalk here,” said Waikiki resident Tim Higbee, who said he’s seen accidents involving bicyclists who hit pedestrians on the sidewalk.

Pedestrians would also get three more crosswalks, along with curb extensions aimed at reducing time pedestrians are in the roadway.

“In addition to just getting the bikeway, two-way bikeway on the street — which gets people from riding off of the sidewalk as one main benefit — we did have the opportunity to look at pedestrian crossing opportunities,” said Michael Riebe of Nelson/Nygaard.

The proposed changes are part of an overall traffic safety plan for Waikiki — one that includes reserving the right lanes of Kuhio Avenue for buses only.

“I don’t mind having a bike lane and stuff, but why take out a lane of traffic, especially when you guys are taking out one lane of traffic in both ways on Kuhio, too?” asked resident Bennett Chan.

The proposed changes got favorable reactions from most of the 100 or so participants in a virtual meeting, which was the final change for public comment.

No date has been set on when the final plans will be ready. The city plans to post the detailed proposals online Friday.

For more information on the Ala Wai Complete Streets project, click here.