A bicyclist suffered minor injuries after being hit by a car while riding in the King Street bike lane Thursday morning.
It happened at 10:19 a.m. near Zippy’s restaurant, just past Piikoi Street.
Noel Kawano told KHON2 he was riding in the lane when a car turned into the driveway and he went flying.
“I was riding fast and he drove in fast and we just hit each other and I went over the hood,” he said.
Kawano considers himself lucky. He says he frequently experiences close calls while using the lane.
“Almost every time I bike on King Street, there’s a close call. I’d have to slam on my brakes or swerve out,” he said. “There needs to be some kind of indicator, especially when there’s parked cars like this, for the cars turning left into the driveways to really know, because from my experience, there’s way too many close calls for me at least.”
Kawano said closer attention by both drivers and bikers will also help.
Other bicyclists agree with Kawano that there have been a lot of close calls in the lane. But there have also been very few accidents.
“The city should consider removing a few stalls in the instances where they’ve had many complaints or where it’s obvious they should be removed,” said Chad Taniguchi with the Hawaii Bicycling League.
City officials point out that in many cities across the mainland, these parked cars are used as a type of barrier, protecting bicyclists from moving vehicles.
KHON2 found out that the number of people using the bike lane has jumped from 402 during a 12-hour period in August to 687 during the same time frame in February. Fewer bicyclists are using the sidewalk, 70 percent before and 14 percent now.
Bicyclist Robert Poesch says he feels safe in the bike lane. “It is so wide, instead of seeing for two blocks, you can see for almost two miles,” he said.
While Taniguchi says he also feels safe, the bike lane could be improved with signs, cautioning people not to speed. There’s no speed limit posted for bicyclists.
City officials remind people that drivers must watch out for bicyclists in the bike lane when making a left turn lane, just as they would pedestrians.
The bike lane will turn into a two-way lane by the end of May. That’s when the city will install traffic lights for ewa-bound bicyclists.
The city also plans to build a connected grid of bike lanes to make traveling by bicycle safer and more enjoyable.