Young Street bike plan
is tax-cut casualty
$3.5 million for its construction
is being cut from the budget
Wednesday, May 14, 2003
» Tom Papandrew is a consultant with Belt Collins working on the Young Street bikeway project. His last name was misspelled in a story on Page A-13 Sunday.
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The City Council is curbing plans to transform Young Street into a bike-friendly thoroughfare through urban Honolulu.
Budget Committee Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi said $3.5 million for the construction of the first phase of the project is being cut from the Mayor Jeremy Harris' budget.
"At this point, putting our city more in debt is something we don't want to do," Kobayashi said.
But bicyclists say the City Council should shift its priorities.
"It seems like the City Council members are really interested in catering more to automobiles than that segment of the population that's going to reduce traffic and make Honolulu more livable," said Jeff Mikulina, Hawaii chapter director of the Sierra Club.
The Young Street project, which may cost up to $10 million to compete, is a key part of the city's master plan to increase bicycling on Oahu.
An artist's rendering shows how a project would alter Young Street's present look, top, with new bike lanes and parking spaces.|
The bike lanes from Moiliili Park to Thomas Square would provide a safer passageway through the heart of Honolulu and connect bike lanes from Waikiki, the University of Hawaii and the rest of East Honolulu to downtown.
To make room for the bike lanes in both directions, the city plans to create parking in the middle of the street and eliminate parking along the curbs.
Under the proposal, about 20 percent of the parking, or about 40 spaces, would be eliminated between Moiliili Park and Thomas Square. People who live along Young Street would not be allowed to turn left to get in or out of their driveways. The speed limit would also be reduced to 15 mph.
"Many of my friends who live in Manoa bicycle to work and they're all waiting for that bikeway," Kobayashi said. "But there are also businesses there who don't want the bikeway."
So far, the plan has the support of both the Makiki and Moiliili/McCully neighborhood boards and of bicyclists.
"Young Street is absolutely vital to bike commuting and the use of a bike for transportation in Honolulu," said John Kelly, president of the Hawaii Bicycling League.
But some residents object to the plan.
"The center street parking I think is a terrible idea," said Richard Kawano, one of two Makiki Neighborhood Board members who voted against supporting the Young Street project. "If you were to pick the top problems at neighborhood board meetings, it's parking. The loss of that becomes an issue because there's a lot of people who say losing one parking space is a problem."
Brian Akana, chairman of the McCully/Moiliili Neighborhood Board, who lives on Young Street, said, "A lot of the neighbors don't like it cause they think it's going to be hard for them to come in and out of their driveways."
Akana, however, said that he supports the project.
"I ride bicycles, too, and riding on the bigger streets (King and Beretania) are more dangerous," Akana said.
The project would be done in phases and would include tree planting, resurfacing the roadway and new sidewalks. The first phase would run from Keeaumoku Street to Thomas Square and involve the construction of a 12-foot-wide center strip. The final phase, which would have the greatest cost, would include putting in sidewalks and drainage near Moiliili Park, where there are currently no sidewalks.
The city also considered placing utilities underground along Young Street but rejected that idea because it would have added about $10 million to the project, said Tom Papancher, a planner and landscape architect with Belt Collins, which was given a $190,000 contract to plan the project.
"We knew we had to lose a lane of parking to put in a bikeway," Papancher said.
Taking out parking on one side of the street would eliminate about half of the parking spaces, he said. Having parking in the center of the street would result in the loss of fewer parking spaces because blocking driveways is not an issue.
It also would be safer because the view of people coming out of driveways would not be obstructed by parked cars so they would be able to see bicyclists approaching, Papancher said.
Papancher said he has been meeting with bicyclists and Young Street residents, businesses and property owners for the last two years and discussed several other options, including closing Young Street to vehicles, before deciding on the center-strip parking plan.