KAPAA — If you’re a user of Ke Ala Hele Makalae, and even if you’re not, Kauai Path wants you.
More specifically, they want you to help count users of this oceanfront path.
On any given day, the path is used by cyclists, runners, skaters, dog walkers and just regular people taking a leisurely stroll.
Just as it did last year, Kauai Path is heading up a local effort that’s part of a nationwide program to get an idea of just how many use similar paths around the country.
Last year’s Ke Ala Hele Makale count, conducted at 11 sites on a weekday evening and a weekend afternoon, found 1,843 trail users. It was a 50/50 split of bicyclists versus pedestrians.
The busiest locations were Moikeha Canal, the base of Kawaihau Road and Lihi Park.
And yes, there are reasons for the count and the results can have future impact.
“By collecting this baseline path usage data and then conducting systematic follow-up counts, we intend to document the growth of usage and project the anticipated increased demand for path facilities,” according to a Kauai Path report. “Bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure has been shown to be one of the most cost-effective tools to improve transportation and mobility while reducing obesity and mitigating other health issues. Documented increases in path user count trends can demonstrate the effectiveness of federal, state, county and private transportation dollars spent on bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.”
As well, Kauai Path points out in its report that it is “a community educational organization whose vision is to expand access islandwide through the design, implementation and stewardship of non-motorized multi-use paths. In order to accomplish this, Kauai Path organizes path enhancement projects and community-based events. Recognizing the need to collect and archive path usage data that will verify the urgency of expansion plans, Kauai Path organized the first in a series of official trail user counts along Ke Ala Hele Makalae (“the path that goes by the coast”) in September 2017.”
The County of Kauai plans to build a mile of new path within the next two years, by 2019, to bridge a gap in the middle of the coastal corridor, the report said. That new path construction will complete the link between the island’s densest residential area, Kapaa, and a major regional beach park, Lydgate Park.
Last year’s count and tabulating the results was funded by The Bill Healy Foundation. The local count is part of a national one.
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit decided to creating a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines, assists communities in repurposing railroad corridors. It is interested in collecting data regarding trail use nationwide to take a snap shot of what kind of activity the nation’s paths are seeing.
This year, Kauai Path is changing up the counting process a bit.
It plans to count on Wednesday, Sept. 12 and Saturday, Sept. 15. And it will conduct the counts for two-hour increments morning, mid-day and evening at four locations: Pineapple Dump, Kawaihau Base, Moikeha Canal and the south bank of Wailua River.
What they are counting remains the same: People, whether on wheels, running or walking.
Volunteers are needed for the Sept. 15 noon to 2 shift and the Saturday 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. shift and the noon to 2 shift.
Anyone who can help is asked to text or call Tommy Noyes, Kauai Path Director at 639-1018.