Sunday, March 4, 2001
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Posted on: Sunday, March 4, 2001

High bids delay East Honolulu bike-lane work

By Suzanne Roig
Advertiser East Honolulu Bureau

KAHALA — At a time when the state is looking to make Honolulu more bike friendly, work on a series of bike lanes in East Honolulu has been delayed.

Bids for the work have come in significantly higher than had been anticipated, and the state needs to come up with an additional $400,000 to build bike lanes in Kahala and Kaimuki. Meanwhile, area cyclists are eager to have a safe passage through these busy, sometimes treacherous areas.

"These are difficult transition areas that use city streets and state highways," said Eric McCutcheon, a bicycling activist working with the city to get a bicycle staging area at Kapiolani Community College. "They’re kind of scary to be on and · difficult to avoid."

The state had put out for bid in November a request to build bike lanes on a portion of Kealaolu Avenue to Kalanianaole Highway and on Waialae Avenue from 17th to 21st avenues, said Marilyn Kali, state Department of Transportation spokeswoman. The state had anticipated the cost would be about $500,000 to build a 3- to 6-foot-wide bike path, continuing the lane over the pedestrian overpass on Waialae, improving guard rails and curbs and signs, Kali said. But the contract came in slightly higher than $1million.

Building those bike lanes now would fit with the roadwork being done on Kalanianaole Highway and fill in bicycling lane gaps near and along state roadways.

"It seems the state and city are coming around and giving bicycling the respect of a viable solution (to traffic)," said Eve DeCoursey, Hawaii Bicycling League executive director. "But we have a long way to go."

DeCoursey said the area around Waialae is especially treacherous for bicyclists as they have to cross traffic in both directions.

The city is also looking at ways to pay for a 20-mile bike path from Kahala to Pearl City, said City Councilman Duke Bainum.

"We all know we have transportation problems with congestion," Bainum said. "Every one we get out of a car and onto a bike improves traffic. Plus there are health benefits and it’s a family sport."

The federal government supports bike lanes and provides federal money, he said. The city also is working on negotiating with Kapiolani Community College to establish a bicycle staging area, where bicycle riders would be able to meet.

McCutcheon agreed that a corridor for bicycle commuters is needed.

"It’s probably not possible to have a lane continuously from Pearl City to Kahala," he said. "But it would be nice."

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