John Cater stood next to his parked car last month on Diamond Head Road where the city will add a new uphill bike lane.

Diamond Head
plan gets shakas

Bikers and surfers are satisfied
that officials will keep parking
and add only 1 bike lane

By Diana Leone

A compromise among city officials, surfers, cyclists and area residents will keep parking on Diamond Head Road, while adding one uphill bike lane to increase bikers' safety.

The agreement was reached earlier this month after surfers petitioned city officials not to proceed with plans to remove parallel parking near Kuulei Cliffs Beach Park to add two bike lanes and widen a sidewalk.

Surfers at the park Wednesday said they were satisfied with the city's revised plan.

"Excellent. Right on," said surfer Tara Thompson, a Diamond Head regular. "I signed the petition earlier this summer. I'm totally stoked. I think a lot of people are going to be stoked."

Diamond Head Road can get very congested with bikers, joggers and traffic sharing the road. The city rejected a plan to eliminate the parking spaces on Diamond Head Road where two bike paths would have been created.

Bikers are satisfied with the compromise because it gives them a 5-foot bike lane Kahala-bound.

That side of the street was a greater safety concern since it is uphill, where bikers are slower than auto traffic, and the opening of doors from parked vehicles could force them to swerve into traffic, said John Goody, Hawaii Bicycling League's community affairs chairman.

Bikers going downhill Waikiki-bound are moving nearer the speed of auto traffic, which has a speed limit of 25 mph, and can use the car lane, Goody said.

"We entered into this negotiation somewhat reluctantly, but with the understanding that beach access is a really important issue," Goody said. Since some bikers are surfers and paddlers, too, "we understand the problem and we're empathetic with the surfers, as they are with us."

Surfer John Cater, who started petitions signed by hundreds of surfers in June to protest the city's plan, agreed. "We support each other in our mutual, nonconflicting goals," he said.

Improvements to Diamond Head Road emerged from the city's vision team process.

The bike lanes are just part of a $1.12 million contract with Road Builders Corp., said Eric Crispin, deputy director of the city Department of Design and Construction. Other components are underground utilities, replacing street lights on telephone poles with new streetlights and resurfacing and restriping the road.

The contractor hasn't begun construction and adding only one bike lane shouldn't add or subtract from the overall cost, Crispin said.

"I think it's clearly an example of different interest groups in the community coming together to work out a win-win solution," Crispin said.

One of the project's constraints is that the street cannot be widened because Diamond Head is a state and national natural landmark, with zoning restrictions. A later project might create some kind of tasteful entranceway to the area "to alert drivers that they are entering a special area."

Michelle Matson, a member of the Diamond Head Neighborhood Board, the area vision team and the Diamond Head Citizens Advisory Committee, said the compromise plan is workable. Matson said she and others are particularly concerned that utility lines go underground and streetlight poles on the mauka side of the road are removed.

Crispin said the streetlights will be replaced with smaller, more decorative fixtures, similar to those along the Ala Wai Canal.

E-mail to City Desk


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