The city of Honolulu and the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) are making Waikiki roads more accessible for non-drivers. Last week, HDOT kicked off a pilot project that gave two major road crossings an all-pedestrian phase. Just a few days later, Honolulu announced plans for a dedicated two-way bus lane on Kuhio Avenue. Between these two improvements, local agencies are hoping to make one of Hawaii’s most famous destinations more mobile for all.
Two Intersections Between Waikiki Roads Got an All-Pedestrian Phase
On Saturday, October 22nd, HDOT began a pilot program aimed at improving pedestrian safety in Waikiki. Two intersections along Ala Moana Boulevard will have a new phase for their traffic signals. At Hobron Lane and Ena Road/Kalia Road, pedestrians will have their own dedicated crossing time when no cars are moving.
The idea behind these kinds of crossings is clear. Reducing the amount of time where pedestrians and cars are on the road at the same time makes it much less likely that they’ll collide. While these kinds of crossings tend to make pedestrians wait longer, the safety benefits may be worth it.
Notably, the pedestrian phase does not permit diagonal crossings. That kind of crossing is called a “pedestrian scramble.” HDOT will reevaluate the program in a month to consider this as an option. It will also consider returning the two intersections to normal if the program doesn’t have the results they hoped for.
Kuhio Avenue Will Get a Bus Lane
This week, the city of Honolulu announced that the right lanes of Kuhio Avenue will be exclusive bus lanes by the end of the year. Kuhio Avenue is the only major thoroughfare in Waikiki that has multiple lanes running in both directions, making it the obvious choice. The city estimates that this plan will improve transit times and bus access without forcing the city to make a ton of improvements. And given that Waikiki already sees tons of foot traffic, it should also encourage more walking.
While the city believes these bus lanes will make Waikiki safer and more connected, some residents have concerns. After all, oversize vehicles like buses are inherently somewhat dangerous on narrow roads. The bus lanes will also make traffic worse without also widening the street. However, the city is confident that it will work like the King Street bus in downtown Honolulu. Hopefully it’s right.