Kokua Line

June Watanabe

The street markings on Keolu Drive in Kailua are confusing and dangerous to motorists. Two lanes were going to be changed into one lane and a bike lane, so temporary stripes were painted. In this picture, there appear to be three lanes.

Keolu Drive project halted,
leaving confusing markings

Question: There is a very dangerous situation related to the street markings on Keolu Drive around Enchanted Lake in Kailua. Suddenly, with little or no apparent warning or explanation, light white lines began to be painted on the street between Enchanted Lake Shopping Center and Hamakua Drive. Then, some of the lines were repainted with the regular wide, white markings and some other faint yellow lines were painted in other places. There seems to be a narrow lane (apparently for bicycles) in the middle of the street with very short, right-turn-only lanes at cross streets. In order to turn right, you would have to cross the "bike" lane, and that is scary for me as a cyclist who rides on Keolu Drive several times a week. At this time, we have three different types and colors of lines on the street, and some drivers are completely ignoring all the lines and proceeding as if they were not there and forming two lanes of traffic; others are attempting to follow the new lines (lanes) as they interpret them. Cyclists like me are mostly staying as close to the curb as possible. This presents a potentially very dangerous situation and shows a lack of serious consideration of the design by those who are supposed to be knowledgeable about these things. Can you help?

Answer: Because of vocal community opposition, the city Department of Transportation Services has halted -- at least for now -- what's known as the Keolu Drive bikeway and traffic safety project.

The department undertook the project -- the result of Kailua Vision Group meetings -- as a means of slowing drivers down to 25 mph from the prevailing 35 to 40 mph, according to city spokeswoman Carol Costa.

"The Vision champion and others felt that striping for a bike lane would both slow down the motorists and give a clear path for bicyclists," the Department of Transportation Services told Costa. Apparently, the wideness of Keolu Drive "was giving drivers the impression they could go faster."

However, after receiving "many calls" after the roadway striping was put in at the beginning of the month, the department suspended its work and met with the Kailua Neighborhood Board's Transportation Committee.

The agreement was to meet again, depending on when the Vision representative, who is out of town, is able to attend.

According to Enchanted Lake resident John McCarthy, there is "almost total opposition" to the project. Despite the city's assertion that the community was informed about the project and had opportunities to respond earlier, McCarthy said he and many others had no idea of what was planned.

"I'm in the process of proving it's not a community-driven project," he said. He said he's spoken to hundreds of residents since he stumbled onto the project while driving to work in the morning in early March, and has found only two who support the project.

"I haven't seen anything with such overwhelming opposition," he said.

McCarthy, a former member of the Kailua Neighborhood Board, is among those leading the charge to have the city shelve the project, or at least find some compromise.

He said a meeting with the city is scheduled for Thursday, with the matter to be discussed at the neighborhood board meeting that night. However, transportation officials indicated the date of the planned "working" meeting was not certain.

But they did say the results of the meeting would be presented to the neighborhood board "before resuming work," Costa said.

According to McCarthy, the plan currently is to remove one lane of traffic in each direction, widen a "stack" lane for turns, and put a bike lane between a traffic lane and a parking lane, characterizing the markings as confusing at best and hazardous at worst.

"They did (temporarily) stop it, but if you go out and look, I think the city created as much of a hazard had they gone through with the project," McCarthy said. "The lines are half painted, people don't know where they're going, they're making right turns from the left side of the road. It's very confusing, so, more so, people don't want it."

He also noted that this project is Phase II of the city's "traffic calming" efforts in the area.

Phase I, he said, involved installing a "raised median" in front of St. John Vianney School and Enchanted Lake Elementary School, but "everyone is knocking the signs over and running over the median," he said. "So what they did is put traffic cones on the median to make it more visible. ... It's kind of a joke."

He said the cost of Phases I and II together would be more than a half million dollars.

We checked the Mayor's Community Vision Group Web site at, which was last updated about a year ago. It refers to $250,000 requested for fiscal year 2002 for the current project.


See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered.
E-mail to


E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2004 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --