Navigating MAP-21: Bike/Ped in Hawaii
This blog is cross-posted from the Advocacy Advance website and is authored by Christy Kwan.
Aloha! We just wrapped up our latest Navigating MAP-21 Workshop in Honolulu, Hawaii – co-hosted by the Hawaii Bicycling League and the Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization (OahuMPO) – last Wednesday, April 9, 2014. Nearly 80 attendees representing bicycling and walking advocates, state and local agency staff, bicycle retailers, neighborhood board members, and elected officials and their staff attended the workshop held at the Hawaii State Capitol.
Clockwise from top left: Morning joggers along Kapiolani Park; Mel Nakahata from the Bike Shop Hawaii provides his input on the small group discussion on safety; and The Advocacy Advance team with hosts, attendees, and elected officials at the post-workshop reception sponsored by Kaiser Permanente Hawaii.
U.S. Senators Welcome Workshop Attendees
The workshop featured welcome addresses from U.S. Senators Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz. Both Senators reaffirmed their commitment to bicycling and walking.
“We, in Hawaii, must take advantage of every option to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels,” said Senator Hirono in her welcome letter (PDF). “Other cities have provided the kind of infrastructure that encourages individuals to get out of their cars and bike and walk. Hawaii should be no different.”
Senator Schatz added: “In Hawaii, more than 20% of traffic fatalities involve pedestrians and bicyclists. That’s why I introduced the Safe Streets Act of 2014: To make sure our roads are planned, designed and built – not just for cars – but for all types of commuting. This policy will help provide safe access for everyone.”
Vision for Bicycling and Walking
With the great weather and outdoor activities in Hawaii, attendees especially underscored the role for bicycling and walking to help create a sense of community for all: children, elderly, people with disabilities, people who walk, people who bike, and recognizing people who also drive because of the lack of transportation choices available. For greater connectivity, health, and economic development of Hawaii’s communities through active transportation, attendees echoed three major themes:
- Increasing safety funding spent to improve safety education, enforcement, and improved infrastructure, such as protected bike lanes, to encourage the best and safest environment for all.
- Increasing collaboration among agency staff, elected officials, and citizens through regular communication and interest in convening a statewide Bike/Ped Summit.
- Making Hawaii great for health, tourism, and quality of life for all by using the available funds in the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) for bicycling and walking and ensuring that active transportation is an institutional priority. Currently the Hawaii Department of Transportation has yet to set up TAP for the state, which has $3.6 million available for fiscal year 2014. Advocates at the workshop resolve to urge HDOT to fully fund, staff, and implement TAP, as well as fully spend remaining funds available for biking and walking.
“If you think about the most vibrant, attractive cities in the country,” said Brian Gibson, Executive Director of the OahuMPO, “they all have the same thing in common – balanced, multi-modal transportation options so residents and visitors can use the most efficient mode choice for each trip. Improving our bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure will pay dividends back to the residents of Oahu.”
Chad Taniguchi, Executive Director of Hawaii Bicycling League added: “Honolulu already has the 12th highest rate of bike commuting among the 70 largest cities in the United States! By working with the Hawaii Department of Transportation and county governments, we can encourage more people to bike and walk by implementing Complete Streets policies to create bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly streets.”
Attendees participated in a walking tour to look at some of the upcoming improvements in Honolulu for people who bike and walk, including this Bike Fixit station at the Downtown Civic Center.
Attendees also heard from Mark Garrity, Deputy Director at the City & County of Honolulu Department of Transportation Services. Garrity enthusiastically noted, “I really want to create an environment that is safe and comfortable for bicyclists and pedestrians.” Current bicycle and pedestrian initiatives in Honolulu include a pilot project for a protected bike lane along King Street from Downtown to University of Hawaii at Manoa, multi-use paths at the Honolulu Civic Center and Thomas Square, the upcoming Bikeshare Hawaii system, and walk audits to ensure that people who bike and walk will have proper access to the upcoming rail stations for the Honolulu High-Capacity Transit Corridor Project currently under construction.
Building upon support from elected officials, the workshop was also attended by Honolulu Councilmembers Carol Fukunaga and Breene Harimoto; and staff members from the offices of Councilmember Stanley Chang, Hawaii Representative Linda Ichiyama, and Hawaii Senator Laura Thielen. The special reception afterwards, sponsored by Kaiser Permanente Hawaii Region, also welcomed attendees to meet and talk with Hawaii Representative Nicole Lowen and Bruce Coppa, Chief of Staff for Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie.
“It’s a really exciting time right now,” said Breene Harimoto, Honolulu City Councilmember, who attended the full-day workshop. “It really takes everyone working together. We can get this done with all of your support.”
Mahalo, Hawaii! Advocacy Advance stands prepared to assist you in your efforts to make Honolulu, O’ahu, and all Hawaiian islands a safe, comfortable, and fun place to walk and bike.