Pedestrians occupying bike lanes on Oahu raising safety concerns

Some drivers say people on foot are putting themselves in danger in the bike lane.
Published: Jun. 22, 2023 at 9:27 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 23, 2023 at 5:33 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - You may have heard the phrase “share the road,” but there are some who say there’s some oversharing on some roadways and creating a safety hazard.

Oahu has more than 60 miles of lanes that are meant to keep bicyclists and motorists safe from one another.

But a viewer sent a photo of morning joggers on Diamond Head Road, headed down the bike path in the wrong direction, toward drivers headed up.

“Like, right into the sun. You can’t see. And if I hit someone, likely I’m the one to blame,” said Palolo area resident Raymond Chong.

He said it’s not just joggers.

“Strollers. Grandma. Grandpa. Little kids. Dogs. Everybody. It’s meant for wheels, not paws and feet,” Chong said.

Chong drives in the area and is a longtime runner and bicyclist himself.

“They’re just treating the road — the bike path, especially — as a footpath. And a lot of people may not be aware that it’s illegal.”

That’s according to state law, which says if a sidewalk is provided, pedestrians aren’t supposed to use the roadway, including the bike path.

“You might see some situations where people are walking or jogging, and those definitely raise safety concerns,” said Travis Counsell, executive director of the Hawaii Bicycling League.

While the law may be black and white, Counsell said there’s a lot of gray areas.

“There might be an indicator of a larger infrastructure challenge, either a narrow sidewalk or a lack of sidewalk that you might see the people using the bike lane in that case,” he explained.

On Diamond Head Road, there’s a marked difference between the rough and sometimes uneven sidewalk and the much smoother roadway pavement.

Sidewalks in other neighborhoods may also have driveways or curbs for pedestrians to navigate.

“And so the preferred route, while maybe not the technical or the legal place they’re supposed to be, they might choose to be in a bike laned or a multi-use path,” said Counsell.

Those lanes are being used, according to the city.

The protected bike lane on South King Street is averaging nearly 700 users a day, while the newer lanes on McCully Street are averaging about 250 daily users.

And they’re supposed to keep everyone safe, if people know where they’re supposed to be.

“We share the road,” Chong said. “But we gotta do it with common sense.”