Bicyclists busted for riding on sidewalk at end of King Street bike lane

Bicyclists busted for riding on sidewalk at end of King Street bike lane
Mike Formby
Mike Formby
David Alexander
David Alexander

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu transportation officials are working to fix an unexpected situation at the downtown end of the protected bike lane on South King Street.

For months, bike riders who enter or exit the lane at Alapai Street have been riding on a sidewalk along South King Street between the city Civic Center and the bike lane. And it turns out that doing so is illegal.

Ten bike riders found that out Wednesday when they were cited for riding a bike on a sidewalk in a business district.

"The rule that prohibits riding on the sidewalks is under state law," said city Transportation Services Director Mike Formby. "But it's city property when you get outside the sidewalk."

That means it's perfectly legal to ride on the multi-use pathways in the civic center and in the bike lane. But the law says bike riders have to dismount and walk their bike in a 100 foot-long section of sidewalk between the two.

"HPD, based on their interpretation of the law -- they saw an issue and they chose to enforce it," said David Alexander of the Hawaii Bicycling League.

Alexander said the sidewalk route is the safest one for bike riders, who would otherwise have to ride with traffic on Alapai Street.

The Honolulu Police Department said it took the enforcement action under a $16,000 grant from the state.

An HPD spokeswoman said in an email, "Enforcement is focused on both drivers and bicyclists, and the locations are chosen based on traffic activity and community complaints."

"That area where they enforced yesterday is one of those vague areas, and it probably in hindsight is not the best area to set up an enforcement action," said Formby.

HPD said it is now working with city transportation services officials, who are looking for ways to designate the sidewalk as a multi-use path as soon as possible, so that it will be legal for bike riders to use.

"It brought something to the forefront that we weren't aware of, and attention hadn't been drawn to," said Alexander.

As for the bicyclists who got a ticket, they can contest it in court, HPD said.

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