Bike safety push must reach drivers, cyclists
It's more apparent than ever how much a workable bikeway network would improve life in Honolulu for everyone.
Sadly, it seems to take injury or loss of life to drive that point home. This week there have been two terrible cases. One cyclist died after being struck by a hit-and-run driver; another was critically injured after being hit by a van.
The cycling community is pressing again for safe bikeways, and rightfully so. City and state transportation authorities for decades have dragged their feet in building even skeletal bike routes that would enable cyclists to travel more safely around the Islands — especially on O'ahu, where the crosscurrents of two- and four-wheeled vehicles are especially hazardous.
An estimated 2,500 people make regular bike commutes on O'ahu, but advocates believe that number is on the rise along with a mounting public desire to contain fuel costs: They've noted a 10 to 15 percent increase in bike sales.
There is hope for movement, at last, toward the goal of more bike-oriented communities on this island, owing in part to passage of a 2006 City Charter amendment placing a priority on making Honolulu "a pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly city," placing bikeway systems under the transportation director's purview.
That statement of public support fueled the long-overdue update of an island bike blueprint sketched out in 1999. Stalling on that update for nearly a decade forced Honolulu residents to wait for critically needed upgrades.
Workshops on the new bikeway maps will resume in September, with a draft of the plan ready about a year later.
While Honolulu follows the lead of other cities in improving infrastructure. public education aimed at drivers and cyclists is needed, too. Pedestrian-safety campaigns by public officials and AARP volunteers addressed both motorists and those on foot, but education showing cyclists and drivers how to share the road has been inadequate.
The Bicycling League is planning a memorial ride, starting at 3 p.m. today from City Hall. Beyond that fitting tribute, quickening the pace for bicycle safety improvements would be the right path forward to prevent further tragic loss of life.