Honolulu’s King Street Cycle Track is on its way to becoming a two-way bike lane.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell helped install the lane’s first bicycle stoplight Monday. It’s the first of 13 lights to be installed at major intersections between Alapai and Isenberg streets in the coming weeks.
They will face east and alert riders traveling in the westbound direction, opposite vehicle traffic, that the lights have turned red.
Each new light costs $380 and all 13 are expected to be installed and operational by the end of the month.
When the King Street protected bike lane opened in December, it was meant for cyclists to go one-way only. But city officials say some didn’t follow the rules and used it as a two-way lane.
“In some ways, it was nice to see people using it that way,” Caldwell admitted.
Now that more bicyclists are using the lane, the city is transitioning to a two-way lane, installing bicycle-exclusive stoplights to make it safer for drivers and bicyclists.
“When you head Ewa, you can see when it says stop, so you don’t ride into cars turning left,” Caldwell said.
The city says the bike lane is a pilot project and officials have taken complaints into consideration, making improvements with both cyclists and drivers in mind.
That includes possibly installing left turn arrows along King Street for drivers.
“We’ll be monitoring queuing time, capacity on side streets and we’ll make decisions after a sufficient amount of time,” said Mike Formby, director of the city Department of Transportation Services. “We want to make informed decisions and not prejudge the need for protected left turn movements.”
City officials say it’s something that could happen if even more bicyclists start using the lane.
They’re also analyzing areas along the bike lane with poor visibility. The city says it’s gotten complaints from business owners along King Street as well as customers, especially between Punahou and Eisenberg streets.
“There are plans to remove some parking spaces that are line-of-sight issues,” Formby said. “We’ll be doing that in May, around same time we activate the system.”
“It’s an integrated system we’re working towards and yes, it’s different and yes, it means change. We think over the long run, people are getting more and more comfortable to this,” Caldwell said.
Officials say the city’s plan has always been to expand the protected bike lane into other parts of the city, including possibly South and Pensacola streets.
They’re hoping to announce new bike lanes within the next three months with anticipated construction by the end of the year.