Save energy, Hawaii --switch to a two-wheeler
EVERYONE agrees that traffic is one of our biggest problems on Oahu, hence the discussions about rail transit systems that would cost billions of dollars. There must be a better way. If you're not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
While waiting for the bus in the morning, I often count the number of cars that pass me and note how many of them have no passengers. On a recent day, on Nuuanu Avenue at Judd Street, 37 of the town-bound 43 cars, pickups and SUVs that passed me carried only a driver. That included the one tow truck and one delivery vehicle. I understand why they were alone. That is about average, depending upon how early I am for my No. 4 bus.
I have a suggestion.
If we could teach island motorists how to share the road safely with bicycles and motorcycles, and then encourage those who travel alone to switch to two- or three-wheeled cycles, we could solve our traffic problem, our parking problems, our gas-consumption problems, and everyone could save money -- thousands of dollars a year per family, billions of tax dollars for the community as a whole.
As a former motorcyclist, I recall how nice it is to ride a cycle in Hawaii, with beautiful weather year round, no ice or snow, and no long distances to commute. We lived in Kaneohe and I commuted to and from Honolulu on a motorcycle. Aside from the threat of motorists who don't want to share the road with cyclists, it was a wonderful experience.
Some years later I became a bus rider, and today I ride the bus to and from school, five days a week. It works, thanks to a great city bus system, and our family saves several thousand dollars a year in car costs -- acquisition, maintenance, insurance and gas.
If every family that has more than one car would replace one of their vehicles with a motorcycle or bicycle -- to be used by the family member who now commutes alone in a car every day -- we would solve most of the problems of traffic and parking. Of course, it also would help if everyone followed the laws, including speed limits.
And think how good it would be for the environment and our diminishing oil supplies.
Now, those should be incentives enough, but if they are not, perhaps the city could offer free parking for cycles, as is done in many private sector office buildings and even hotels.
Keith Haugen is a teacher who has been commuting to work in Honolulu since moving here from Maui in 1970.