Letter for Friday, July 23, 2021

Questions data on visitor vehicles

My wife and I have enjoyed visiting Kaua‘i for over 25 years. Prior to the pandemic, we visited three times a year for 11 or 12 weeks total. I read the paper every day and have recently seen a few opinion pieces about the amount of visitor traffic and how it impacts the island.

I must question where they attain their data. We can drive from Lihu‘e to PMRF and I can make my wife crazy as I sort the oncoming cars into visitor or local.

Most days, local is an overwhelming number in comparison to visitor. I believe most adults can make a quick judgement if a vehicle has the possibility of being a rental. Pickups and beaters are not rentals, neither are Hondas and Mercedes. Jeeps on the other hand, are most likely the culprits.

Charles Twardzicki, Olympia, Washington

  1. nobody July 23, 2021 7:50 am Reply

    Many of the residents causing today’s traffic jams were tourists just a short time ago. Now the new residents don’t want tourism? Go figure. Oh yeah, they come with money.

    We should be focused on low income housing, not traffic. Put the housing where all those cars are going in the morning. (It’s called “planning”)

  2. Uncleaina July 23, 2021 7:50 am Reply

    Aloha Charles. Yeah you’re incorrect. We who lived here during the pandemic got to see *exactly* how much traffic is caused by tourists and rental cars. During the pandemic I could go to Kapaa Safeway and it took 25 minutes round trip. That same trip took me over an hour yesterday. Without the tourists and rental cars there was almost no traffic for a year – none. The turtles even came back to Poipu. The entire place was quiet and much nicer without tourists. So sorry, your casual observation is wrong.

  3. kauaidoug July 23, 2021 8:09 am Reply

    Charles, not sure your point but if you’ve been reading the paper you should know a lot of locals are taking up the slack of the car rental shortage by renting their own cars.
    That is exactly the point of traffic we’ve been experiencing. This is only the beginning!

  4. betty bohl July 23, 2021 8:20 am Reply

    Charles you misguided perceptions from 3000 miles away are a joke. “Locals” are now renting their cars (and trucks) to visitors. The number of Rent A Wreck companies has greatly expanded also undermining your simplistic thesis. Probably best to just stick to counting cars in Olympia.

  5. james July 23, 2021 8:20 am Reply

    We have to add Turro and self rentals into the mix which are local cars driven by visitors. I sure have been seeing a lot of Camaro and Mustang convertibles, as well as mini-vans. Also new Chevy sedans, Hyundai’s, and Nissans too. Rental cars from the agencies don’t have license plate frames or custom stickers on them either. Anyway, a lot more cars on the roads now, that’s for sure.

  6. I saw a Vampire once July 23, 2021 9:14 am Reply

    Well that would be the job of a politician. County councilmen. This is if they know their own work.

  7. manongindashadow0711 July 23, 2021 11:36 am Reply

    Mr. Twardzicki,
    The beaters, P/U Trucks, etc are the only vehicles we have to get from Point A to Point B. Then it sits there until our errand/work is done.
    Why do you rent a vehicle here on the island? There are other means for you to see Kauai and shop. You have tour shuttles, Kauai Bus, bicycle/ motor bike , and taxi.
    Utilize what’s mentioned above!

  8. Cars July 23, 2021 11:59 pm Reply

    It might look like its mostly locals because tourists are driving local cars now that the rentals are short.
    Charles if you were here doing the start of covid when there were no tourist you would see that there are way more cars on the road even if its a tourist driving a beater they rented for $300

  9. Ricardo July 24, 2021 5:48 am Reply

    The population data from UH Manoa and Census suggests that Charles may be exactly right: local traffic may significantly exceed visitor traffic. Residents and government may have to accept some responsibility.

    Historically, the data shows that Kauai has gone through two sustained and significant periods of population growth, each about 50 years long. The first period extended from a population low of 5,811 in 1878 to a population peak in 1930 of 35,942.

    1940 showed a small decline in population. The War years and after showed a decline to under 30,000 until the start of the 1970’s.

    The second period of significant growth started around 1970 with a population of 29,761 and extends to the 2020 Census of 71,851 [and perhaps longer, but growth is slightly slower since 2000].

    So the population more than doubled since 1970, but the roads did not! And cars & trucks may be more needed now, didn’t check registrations.

    When residents more than double and roads don’t, it may be reasonable to expect some traffic. Might be a good time to talk to the traffic planners and to cast less blame on the visitors, the easy target.

  10. Carol Seielstad July 24, 2021 6:35 am Reply

    Aloha Mr. Twardzicki, I took your challenge and began counting visitor vs local vehicles when driving from Princeville to Kilauea daily for work (7:15am to about 8:00 am and then from 12:15 to about 1:00pm). Overwhelmingly it is visitors’ vehicles over locals (trucks, landscapers, rusty cars, etc.) Welcome to the North Shore. Of course the convoy times in and out of Hanalei may be an influence but seriously, there are many, many more cars than I ever remember being here before. Just my opinion but it was an interesting experience.

  11. commonsense July 24, 2021 9:32 am Reply

    Just look at all the out of state license plates on the road now. On my daily 40-minute commute to and from work, I have counted 60 out of state plates. I would add this number into the visitor count because these are new arrivals that have not become accustomed to the driving here yet. Add to this the hundreds of ‘local’ vehicles being rented out to visitors on Touro and through other means.

    The traffic is ridiculous and unfortunately with our infrastructure, this will not change because our population is close to reaching its’ sustainable capacity. Kaua’i cannot handle 85,000 people which we will most likely reach in the next 6 to 8 years.

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