It was very nice to see about a hundred Maui bicyclists show up on the morning of Tuesday, Aug. 4 for a special opening of (part) of the new Airport Access Road in Kahului. The nonprofit organization Maui Bicycling League convinced state and county officials to allow cyclists to ride the gleaming new stretch of roadway that stretches from Wal-Mart to Hana Highway and will (eventually) allow direct access to Kahului Airport.
“Our goal with this ride is to experience what it is like to bypass the congestion of Dairy Road along a roadway without traffic,” said Ceal Potts, Maui Bicycling League co-chair, in an Aug. 1 news release on the ride sent out by Pedego Maui. “This is a one time opportunity–but we hope that it will highlight the importance of creating a bike path removed from the roadway along this route–such a path would provide a direct link between the Mokulele Bike Path and the Northshore Greenway, and effectively connect Kihei, to Kahului, on to Paia all via a protected route away from cars.”
See, that Tuesday morning bike ride was actually the only time cyclists will be able to cruise the new Airport Access Road stretch in safety. That’s because the road (which has been in development for many years) lacks a dedicated bikeway. It has a wide shoulder, but not a dedicated path like the one that runs along Mokulele Highway.
“We are glad that there is a shoulder on the new Airport Access Road, but ideally, there would be a free-standing shared-use path built into the Airport Access Road’s wide easement where bicycles, walkers and runners could safely travel,” said Saman Dias in the Aug. 1 news release. “By installing this short 2 mile link segment between the Mokulele Bike Path and the North Shore Greenway we would create a nearly 14 mile protected bike route–the longest dedicated bike route in the State of Hawaii. We would like to see that path added to the Central Maui Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan, as well as Bike Plan Hawaii so that it can become a reality in the near future.”
The call from local cyclists for a dedicated bike path isn’t based on aesthetics. Kahului can be dangerous for cyclists, and the new Airport Access Road was a great opportunity to make things better.
“On average it is almost 15 times more dangerous for a cyclist to ride down Dairy Road than any other mile of roadway in Central Maui,” said MBL member Danny Boren in the Aug. 1 news release. “At one point, Hookele St. was called out in the Central Maui Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan as an opportunity for a safe non-motorized route around Dairy Rd., but since Hookele was built out before this plan was adopted no cycling facilities were installed, leaving this area of Central Maui devoid of a safe bike route.”
Still, a surprising number of county and state officials showed up for the bike ride yesterday morning. According to a press release Dias sent out a few hours after the ride, Maui County Councilmember Don Couch, Councilmember Don Guzman, County Managing Director Keith Regan, Chief of Staff Herman Andaya, County Public Works Director David Goode, County Public Works Deputy Director Rowena Dagdag and state Department of Transportation official Ferdinand Cajigal all showed up.
Perhaps there’s hope for cyclists in Kahului after all.
Photo: Ryan Piros/County of Maui