Honolulu is becoming a more bikeable city, but that comes at a price

Honolulu is becoming a more bikeable city, but that comes at a price
Updated: Apr. 10, 2018 at 8:33 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - From beneath the shade of a palm tree, Hawaii's beauty is unparalleled. But the calm that comes from gazing at the picturesque scenery can vanish the moment you're behind the wheel of a car.

Every day, drivers can sit for hours staring at brake lights.

"It's the worst part about living in Hawaii," Hawaii Kai resident Chris Mauro said.

Now, frustrated drivers are facing another obstacle: On-street parking is disappearing in the urban core.

The city confirms 184 on-street parking spaces have been removed to make way for bike lanes and the new bike share program, known as Biki.

On top of that another 70 stalls will be gone by early next year as Honolulu's cycle grid continues to expand down Ward Avenue and Pensacola Street

One of those new bikeways will pass directly in front of Raintree Bakery and Coffee House.

On Wednesday, there wasn't an open stall on the entire block.

"The no. 1 complaint our guests have is there is no parking," co-owner Elliott Latimer said. "We can't even rent parking for our own car in this neighborhood."

Worse, Latimer said the city never notified businesses about their plan. By the time they found out, it was already a done deal.

"They said they had mentioned it in the newspaper. But they didn't do any due diligence to try and get in contact with people who are actually doing business here," co-owner Jerry Harde said.

Chris Sayers, the city's bicycle coordinator, said planners are making some "tough decisions" about how to use limited street space.

He said the goal is to transform the urban core so that all modes of transportation can benefit from Honolulu's roadways, not just cars.

"Fifteen bikes will fit into two parking spaces," he said.

In addition to developing a network of bike lanes, eight of which required no loss of parking spaces, Sayers said the launch of the city's bike share program substantially increased bicycle ridership.

"On King Street for example, we took one lane out of six and now we have more than 1,000 bicyclists a day," Sayers said.

That comes as no surprise to Kapahulu resident Tim Stebbins.

"There are several Biki stations near where I live and they're almost always empty," he said.

On-street parking removed for bikeways These figures don't include some 54 stalls removed for the bikeshare program, Biki. 
Protected bike lanes
King Street 25 metered stalls
South Street 29 metered stalls
Buffered bike lanes
Ala Napunani Street 0 stalls
Kam IV Road 1 stall
Waiakamilo Road 0 stalls
Iwilei Road/Pacific Street 6 unmarked stalls
Lusitana Street/Alapai Street 5 metered stalls
Hamakua Drive 13 unmarked stalls
Standard bike lanes
Beretania Street 17 metered stalls
McCully Street 29 unmarked stalls
10th Avenue 0 stalls
Waialae Avenue 5 metered stalls
Kalakaua Avenue 0 stalls
Diamond Head Road 0 stalls
Makapuu Avenue 0 stalls
18th Avenue 0 stalls
Nanakuli Ave./Haleakala Ave. 0 stalls
SOURCE: City Department of Transportation Services

And the bicycle grid's expansion is just beginning.

The city confirms more bikeway projects are planned for Punchbowl, Bishop and King streets. There's no word on how many additional parking stalls those projects would eliminate.

Bike riders welcome the news.

"I would love more bike lanes," Biki rider Christina Fleischmann said.

But others argue that trading a car for a bike isn't feasible and losing hundreds of parking spaces in town only adds to the problems plaguing Honolulu drivers. For close to a decade Honolulu has been repeatedly ranked in the nation's top 10 for some of the country's worst traffic. And those rankings don't take into account the constant lane closures in Honolulu, for everything from construction to water main breaks.

"Having less parking does suck," said Mauro, the Hawaii Kai resident. "Even if you find parking it's usually paid and that's miserable."

With the bikeway on Pensacola Street all but inevitable, the co-owners of Raintree fear what that'll mean for all the small businesses in their neighborhood.

"We're scheduled to lose about 30 percent more parking," Latimer said.

Without those stalls, he worries customers will chose to eat someplace else.

And that, he said, "could be the end for us"

Copyright 2018 Hawaii News Now.  All rights reserved.