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Bicyclists protest Waialae road plan

    Alicia Giuffria joined in Friday's "Complete the Street" rally at Kaimuki Community Park, concerning the need for bicycle accommodations to be included in scheduled improvements to Waialae Avenue.

Bicyclists rallied yesterday to show their opposition to a city plan to repave Waialae Avenue without putting in bike lanes.

The city Department of Design and Construction is planning to put out to bid within a month a project to repave and resurface Waialae Avenue, which is expected to happen this fall.

The city plans to use this opportunity to re-stripe the road with "sharrows," or markings for shared lanes that both bicycles and cars may use. But that’s not what the bicyclists want, and they say it’s not in the spirit of the "Complete Streets" legislation passed in 2009 by the state, which called for planning for all types of street users, from pedestrians to bicyclists.

"We’re here because the proper design process wasn’t carried out," said R.J. Martin, a University of Hawaii-Manoa graduate student and a member of Cycle Manoa, an advocacy group.

Before the city can implement bike lanes, which are a separate narrow lane for bicycles, it needs to study how that change would affect traffic, said city Transportation Services Director Wayne Yoshioka.

"The narrowness in some sections of the road, we may have to take away a lane or remove contra-flow operations in the morning," Yo­shioka said. "Additionally, in certain areas it looks like some of the scenarios we have require removal of on-street parking."

That means the city has to reach out to property owners and nearby businesses to assess the impact, Yoshioka said.

The city Transportation Services Department will instead piggyback on the design and construction project this fall and add sharrows once the resurfacing is done, Yoshioka said.

But dozens of cycling advocates and AARP Hawaii members gathered Friday for sign-waving and a rally to showcase community support for bicycle lanes. The group claims that it has the support of about 20 Waialae Avenue businesses.

"We’re saying they should just go through with this now," said Daniel Alexander, an urban regional planning graduate student at UH-Manoa and also a member of Cycle Manoa. He added that sharrows are better than nothing, but it’s not what is needed in the community.

Barbara Kim Stanton, Hawaii director for AARP, said her group supports cyclists because it falls under the "Complete Streets" vision. AARP was instrumental in getting the legislation passed.

"Complete Streets is all about sharing the road with other users," Stanton said. "Unfortunately the streets here are designed with only drivers in mind."

City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi showed up briefly at Friday’s rally. She said she doesn’t understand why the city is going through with the resurfacing of the road when the Transportation Services Department still needs to do a study on how bike lanes would affect traffic.

She said she plans to write a letter to Mayor Peter Carlisle asking him to stop the resurfacing until the department finishes its study.

"I say just hold it," Kobayashi said. "Let’s make it a complete street now rather than later."

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