Petition pays off

LIHUE — Bike lanes will not be constructed on Malae and Puaole streets, Planning Department officials said Wednesday.

The change in plans was in response to a petition drafted by Lihue resident Lorraine Shimauchi who said the proposal could cause an increase in traffic and accidents.

“This is inviting more bicycles on our road, and it’s a heavily traveled road,” she said. “We are really concerned about safety, that’s our major thing.”

Joyce Tomas, who lives on Puaole Street, was one of 57 people who signed the petition.

“We use that road daily, and we know how dangerous it is,” she said.

Removing the center dividing line in the street, another proposed idea, would have made the road even more precarious, she said.

“Bikers have to share the road with drivers. If they’re not going to have lines, but add bike paths, that’s dangerous for bikers and drivers,” she said.

Adding bike lanes would mean narrowing the busy street, said Sharon Nonaka, another Puaole Street resident who signed the petition.

“The streets are already quite well used, and if you narrow the roads, it’ll make the roads busier,” she said.

The proposed project on Malae and Puaole streets was part of a $17 million Lihue Town Core Mobility and Revitalization Project, which is funded in part by the $13.8 million Transportation Investment General Economic Recovery, or TIGER, grant.

During Wednesday’s committee meeting, council members discussed the petition and called on Mike Dahilig, director of the Planning Department, and Lyle Tabata, acting county engineer, to address the concerns.

“At the end of the day, it has to work for the residents,” Dahilig said.

Because bikers use the streets already, Dahilig said he wants to make them a shared use path, complete with signs, alerting motorists bikers are in the area.

But Mel Rapozo, council chair, said signs indicating a shared use path would encourage people to use their bikes.

“Bikes have the right to travel on every road on the island,” he said.

Public Works decided to add a bike lane on Malae and Puaole streets to keep people from riding their bikes on Rice Street, said Tabata.

“This was to give an alternate and safer route,” he said.

Because the department has received complaints about speeding on Malae and Puaole streets, Tabata plans to pursue traffic calming measures.

“In our community outreach, it was very clear that people wanted us to address traffic safety, mainly speeding, and large vehicular traffic,” he said.

Janet Kamioka, a Puaole Street resident who signed the petition, said she’s pleased with how the county responded to the petition.

“This is great news,” she said. “We’re satisfied with the way things are right now.”

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