If you use Ke Ala Hele Makalae, Kauai Path wants to hear from you.
The nonprofit is conducting an online survey to try and learn what for, how often, and why people use the path by the ocean.
The more people who take it, the better, said Tommy Noyes, Kauai Path director.
“We like to collect that information because it will be helpful over time to see what kind of trends there are,” he said.
For the past two years, Kauai Path has conducted counts of path users. Volunteers tally walkers, cyclists, skaters and runners they see at set points and at certain times of the day.
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.
There is no doubt this scenic path is popular. Pretty much any sunny day, even cloudy days, there are likely thousands of people who will use it, whether that’s at Lydgate Park, near Kapaa Beach Park or farther north by Donkey Beach
One visitor, Mark Peterson of Canada, was running on the path on a hot sunny morning and stopped for water at Kealia Beach. He said he saw the path while driving past, and returned the next day to try it out.
“This is pretty spectacular,” he said. “I would love to be able to run here every day.”
The 24-question survey asks some basic questions, like why and when you use the path, what for, how often and for how long. It also asks for thoughts on maintenance and safety.
Information about users is wanted, too, such as age, gender, employment and income.
“We’d also like to know a little more about the people that are using the path,” Noyes said.
A few people have indicated they don’t feel safe using the path.
“We want to know why,” Noyes said.
“All of these things can help us be more intelligent about moving forward with building out Ke Ala Hele Makalae system to connect Anahola and Lihue,” he added “The more thoughtfully we can put together our plans for the future endeavors, the better.”
Kauai Path is looking to connect with other communities, such as Waimea and Kekaha to establish path systems, while Princeville already has a shared-used path popular with walkers, bikers and runners.
There are the obvious benefits to shared-use paths.
“Physically separated facilities such as sidepaths or shared-use paths for pedestrians and bicyclists are a great way to encourage more walking and bicycling,” according to Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center. “Shared-use paths provide off-road connections that can be used for recreation and commuting. These paths are often found along waterways, abandoned or active railroad and utility rights-of-way, limited access highways, or within parks and open space areas.”
Multi-use paths are also a factor in where people plan vacations.
The survey can help determine future steps with the Ke Ala Hele Makalae by focusing on what people like about it and use it for most often, and addressing any problems areas.
“It gives us a basis to collect public input and then use it to improve this asset that we have and be sure we’re working with as much pertinent information as we can,” Noyes said.
There are long-term plans to extend the path north to Anahola, and south toward Ahukini Landing, Ninini Point Lighthouse and Lihue.
Currently the path basically extends from Lydgate Park to just north of Donkey Beach. But there are gaps. There is a need to complete the path from where it seems to disappear north of Coco Palms and restarts around Fuji Beach.
The 1,000-foot boardwalk connection between the Kawaihau spur and the end of Kawaihau Road was opened in July 2017 after three months of work by the Ohio National Guard.
Kauai Path played a key role in advocating for the project. It is one of the final portions of the third phase of Ke Ala Hele Makalae.
As more sections of the path are opened, Noyes sees greater potential for use.
“What happens when additional sections are opened up to the public?” he said.
Kauai Path put the survey online recently and has been pointing people to it via personal encounters, its website, and the media. It plans to ramp up publicity efforts in the coming months.
The hope is there will be at least 500 responses. There is no current deadline for the survey to end.
Find the survey at bit.ly/2PyBEiC
Bill Buley, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or firstname.lastname@example.org.