Downtown, Chinatown streets to get major safety overhaul

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Published: Wednesday, February 8th 2017, 2:06 pm HST
By Jim Mendoza, Reporter

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - City officials are planning big changes for several major thoroughfares in Downtown Honolulu, including modifications to pedestrian crossings and bicycle lanes in the city center and Chinatown areas.

Between the next two to four years, the city plans to install a protected bicycle lane on the Diamond Head-side of Bishop Street, removing that lane from vehicle traffic. The new bicycle lane will extend the length of Bishop Street and be separated from the roadway by a concrete curb. 

"It's going to be on the Diamond Head side. We'll be pushing all traffic toward the Ewa side," said Mike Packard, the City's Complete Streets Coordinator. 

The lane will run the length of the street, taking away the left lane from motorists, but Packard believes the traffic flow won't be severely affected because the right lane will be kept clear. Delivery vehicles will have a loading space outside the bike lane.

"I work downtown part-time. I use my bike as part of my job, so it would make me feel a lot more secure," bicycle rider Jonathan Holshue said. 

Also on the drawing board are modifications to two busy pedestrian crossings. Intersections at Bishop Street and King Street, as well as King Street and Alakea Street, will be converted to all-way crossings, which should reduce the time motorists have to wait at red lights.

“The hope is that we can reduce delays for both vehicles and pedestrians,” Packard said.

The city will also modify some street corners in Chinatown, extending the curb to make them safer for pedestrians.

“It shortens the distance that pedestrians have to cross, while being exposed to vehicle traffic,” Packard said.

The city is holding a series of “lunch and learn” meetings this month to familiarize people with the Complete Streets plan and get feedback. An expo is scheduled for March 15. 

The cost of the work is still to be determined. The plan is to make enhancements while the City works on repavement projects planned for downtown.