CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Eugenio Alberto rode his bicycle on the sidewalk yesterday instead of on McCully Street, where a designated bikeway is supposed to be. "If you ride on the sidewalks, you have to take care of people walking, and on the street you have to watch out for the buses," said Alberto, who uses his bicycle as a primary means of transportation.
>> Various groups hope to work with the city regarding bicycling and recycling
>> Among the priorities for AARP Hawaii are safer crosswalks for pedestrians
BICYCLISTS and a seniors group want to work with the city to make Oahu safer for walking and bicycling, while environmentalists will watchdog the roll-out of curbside recycling.
On Tuesday, voters approved amendments to the City Charter that require Honolulu to offer curbside recycling and become more pedestrian- and bicycling-friendly. Three out of four votes cast approved both measures.
"It's such a clear mandate to the city Department of Transportation Services to take this very seriously. Enough is enough in terms of pedestrian and bicyclist injuries," said Kristi Schulenberg, Hawaii Bicycling League executive director.
Putting the matters into the City Charter makes them "a vision for a future" for the city, Schulenberg said. "Now it's going to take the work of advocates."
Schulenberg said she hopes the Hawaii Bicycling League and other walking and biking advocates will meet with city Transportation Director Melvin Kaku within the next two weeks.
"Now that it's in the charter and explicitly stated that this is a priority, we'll be working with the DTS and the Council to make sure there's actually some progress in making the neighborhoods a lot safer to walk in and ride in," said Barbara Kim Stanton, AARP Hawaii state director.
Priorities for AARP Hawaii will be "to see some of the things we checked out as being dangerous to be fixed," Stanton said, referring to an AARP survey released last month that found more than one-third of 50 Honolulu crosswalks did not give an average person enough time to cross, while almost half did not give enough time for a person with limited physical abilities.
Information collected by the state Department of Health shows Hawaii has the 11th-highest pedestrian fatality rate in the nation and the highest pedestrian fatality rate among those age 65 and older.
The AARP also expects to be vigilant about ensuring that proposed rail service for Oahu includes "transit-oriented development" -- walkable neighborhoods -- near the rail stations, Stanton said.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who had repeatedly said he does not believe the City Charter is the correct place for these issues, and his directors of the Departments of Environmental Services and Transportation Services did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday and yesterday.
Hannemann spokesman Bill Brennan said it was early for city department heads to know how they will proceed to implement the Charter amendments, both of which take effect Jan. 2.
"Each department that's been impacted by approval of Charter amendments is assessing ... what exactly is required of us now," Brennan said.
"The administration is happy to implement curbside recycling as long as funding is available to do that," he said. "The Council and administration will have to figure out some sort of funding formula to do curbside recycling."
A year ago, Hannemann canceled curbside recycling plans put in place by former Mayor Jeremy Harris, saying they were too costly.
State Sierra Club Director Jeff Mikulina said he believes if the city seeks recycling bids, it will again get a nearly no-cost bid.
Mikulina said he hopes the city will seek bids for curbside recycling in the first three to six months of 2007.
Meanwhile, Mikulina said, "Every day that we wait, there are tens of thousands of pounds of waste going into the landfill."