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UH students tell City Council about bike route disconnections

By Gene Park

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 01:44 a.m. HST, May 27, 2011



Frank Alsup and five other students at a citizen architecture class at the University of Hawaii at Manoa see gaps in the city’s bicycling routes.

The gaps leave major segments of Honolulu’s urban core disconnected for bicycling because Waikiki doesn’t connect well enough with Manoa, and neither districts connects well with downtown.

“Because of a limited budget, we should have a more focused effort on our urban core,” Alsup told City Council members Wednesday.

The city arrived at the same conclusion and has added better connectivity to its own bicycling master plan, which will delay its completion until fall.

The city is paying a consultant about $370,000 for the plan, which was due this summer. The city will pay $14,000 for about three more months to include the students’ ideas.

Alsup and his fellow students got A’s, and an audience with the Council to make their presentation.

Council Budget Chairman Ernie Martin joked about having the students finish up the long-awaited bicycle plan, since they had already done so much legwork for free.

He was probably kidding, and it’s not an entirely fair comparison. The city’s bicycling plan entails months of collecting comprehensive data from the roads.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t marvel at the achievement of these six students: Alsup, Michelle Cheang, Sanpha wat Jatupatwarangkul, Ramo Khem, Yuhei Miyake and Luan Truong.

They are all in the sixth year of a seven-year doctorate program for architecture. It’s the first time the Manoa campus has offered a citizen architecture class.

“The intent of this is to get members of our profession more engaged in their communities by participating in initiatives that will help improve quality of life,” said instructor Patrick Onishi.

Alsup said they chose the bike routes because one of the students had a friend die in a bicycling accident some years ago.

“At one point we put together a panel of people, where we ended up meeting the Hawaii Bicycling League,” Alsup said. “They gave us direction on what kind of issues they’re facing.”

The Hawaii Bicycling League is also a key voice in putting together the city’s master plan. City Transportation Services Director Wayne Yoshioka says the plan is practically done.

Yoshioka said the administration is already implementing elements of the plan into its capital improvement projects. If a road needs to be resurfaced, part of the work will include re-striping the road for bike routes or lanes.

It’s good to hear a lot of interest in bicycling safety. City Council Transportation Chairman Breene Harimoto said it’s a priority of his, and Yoshioka agrees.

After all, Honolulu needs another bicycling accident like, well, a fish needs a bicycle.

Gene Park can be reached at gpark@staradvertiser.com or on Twitter as @GenePark.






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