Bicyclists deserve space on our roads
This is in reply to “Our roads aren’t built to accommodate numerous bike riders,” which ran Feb. 24 in West Hawaii Today.
When I retired from 30 years of employment, I made a pact with myself that I would not spend my free time being consumed in hammering off comments to the editorial section at WHT. To quote a phrase from one of my favorite children’s book authors, Dr. Seuss: “I have people to see and places to go.” Until yesterday, when I read the comments made by Greg Miller of Kalaoa. I cannot silence my keyboard.
You see, I am an avid bicyclist, and you have chosen to cast judgment on me and my fellow cyclists, who traverse the roads of Kona. You feel that there is not enough room for motorists and those of us who choose to ride our bikes on the same highways. I beg to disagree with you, my friend. True, a car will always win out when a bike rider has to cross an intersection, or cross a lane of traffic. We know that. Which explains why we wear helmets and many of us wave our arms in the air to catch your attention. Some of us will even stop on the far right shoulder to wait until it is safe to proceed to cross a busy section of highway. But that’s not why I’m writing this.
I’m writing this comment because people seem to take pleasure in complaining about bicyclists, and the many road races that are held throughout the year, in Kona, but do nothing to offer any form of constructive solution. If you cannot offer a solution to a problem, then you are a part of the problem.
The race director for the 2014 Keauhou Lavaman had to make the painful decision to cancel this year’s race. It was made out of concern for safety and the lack of funding to assure that the bike course was not going to create a gridlock for the community. It saddens the athletes who love this race, but they understand why the call was made.
No, I’m not a super jock of an athlete. I’m simply a retiree, who looks forward to pedaling her bike to her heart’s content, in and around my community. I pay taxes just as everyone else. I feel our roads need to be safer for those individuals who choose to commute to and from home or ride for leisure on other modes of transportation, other than a car.
On a parting note, the Keauhou Lavaman race director lost her husband several years ago, in a tragic bike and auto accident. Her husband was riding his bike and lost his life returning to their home in Kalaoa. Rather than wallow over his loss, she turned a very dark cloud into a bright light, in her husband’s memory. She chose to make a difference in her community. What have you done to make your community better?
Adopt Asian model of roadway driving
I would like to expand on John Rabi’s well written and informative letter today regarding driver education. Our drivers education classes are certainly lacking in that all they do is teach you how to drive. Unlike other developed nations that have no such requirement.
His comments about “other serious car cultures” should not be ignored, but I would go a bit further. I believe that we should adopt a more Asian model. In many Asian cities, the roads are shared by cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, bicycles, rickshaws and livestock. They seem to be able to navigate without the need for all those annoying lines in the roadway. I suggest we eliminate those.
Please do pull as close to the centerline on a two-lane road as possible to allow cars to pass on the right. Even if it is illegal and often means you will be passing on the shoulder. No exceptions.
I do disagree with his mirror comment. I have found it works quite well when you are shaving.
Remember kupuna when considering wage increase
The minimum wage has again been introduced in this year’s state Legislature. Our legislators are worried that many young and undereducated employees are not paid a decent wage. They feel that the free enterprise system that made this country great is no longer valid and so they will make it right; it’s the pono thing to do.
But wait, the minimum wage increase is a two-edged blade. It may temporarily help a select group cope with the increased inflation that it causes but it will have a devastating effect on the poor, the unemployed and fixed income seniors. Yes, your parents who worked hard and saved for retirement when wages were low; their savings and Social Security have not kept up with inflation either. How can both groups be helped to cope?
Legislators should let the free enterprise system work and expend their efforts in improving the business climate in this state. The more money business keeps, the more they expand, when they expand they compete for employees and the wages increase. But for now, a vote for an increase in the minimum wage is a vote to decrease the standard of living for our kupuna.
Permit process is a disgrace
Why the agony of obtaining permits on the west side of the Big Island?
The Amici Restaurant moved from Kealakekua to Kailua-Kona four months ago and still patrons cannot eat inside. Why? Because the owners are unable to obtain a final permit. They applied last year and are still being given the run-around and meanwhile patrons can only eat on the lanai.
Remember Blue Waiaka Restaurant that was supposed to open a few years back on Alii Drive? It never opened I was told by one of those hired, because the owners could not get a final permit on the eve of their opening. This, after renovating the building upstairs and down, buying furnishings, hiring staff. They lost everything.
A woman and her husband I knew a few years back had moved from Texas to Ocean View and bought a lot to build on. They paid for plans from a qualified architect but were unable to get a permit to build. They finally gave up and lived in a temporary shack on their property.
I have not had the misfortune of dealing with this frustrating process or having to deal with people who find endless excuses not to grant me a permit so I can earn my livelihood or build a house on my property, but I would have enjoyed Blue Waiaka Restaurant and I would like to sit inside at Amici’s when it rains.
Hawaii is not a Third World country where cronyism and bribes are the way to get something done. Or, at least, it should not be. So why this disfunctionality? There should be a known path for business owners and other taxpayers to obtain permits. It should not be subject to the whims of those employed at taxpayer expense in this department. Taxpayer money pays for the salaries of the people in our local government and if there is a lawsuit, it will be taxpayer money that pays for damages to business owners.
This is a disgrace and the process is severely flawed. The head of the permit department should be replaced with someone who understands efficiency and fairness and professionalism. And workers in this department who are patronizing and rude to the public who pays their salaries should be dismissed.
Proposed Alii Highway much needed
I was elated to read John Jacobsen’s letter published in West Hawaii Today on Jan. 26 about the desperate need to build the Alii Highway. OK, I thought, this letter will trigger an outcry for this much needed project. Unfortunately, more than a month has passed with no outcry. This project seems to have died an agonizing death once again.
Alii Drive used to be the crown jewel of West Hawaii. Now everyone who lives on Alii Drive knows that from sunup to well after dark it is a race track in which cars, trucks, motorcycles, mo-peds, bicyclists and pedestrians compete for limited space, and all at the same time. Some cars travel at 15 mph, others at 50 mph. Many of the two-wheeled vehicles travel on the sidewalk — yes, “sidewalk” is the name used in county documents — at speeds up to 40 mph. I have witnessed countless accidents and I myself have been hit by a fast-moving mo-ped while walking my dog. Stop signs were added by the county because of the greatly increased traffic. As a result, cars and trucks back up for 1/4 mile or more, while smaller vehicles (occasionally even motorcycles) speed along on the sidewalk. Does this sound like chaos?
In 2008 I remember that Billy Kenoi had a short list of urgent needs that he promised would be solved if he was elected mayor. Completion of the Alii Highway was high on that list. Does any reader have a copy of one of the WHT articles that published that list? I would love to bring it to Mayor Kenoi.
I understand that the county will soon build the southern portion of the Mamalahoa bypass south of Hokulia. It will be completed using money provided by Hokulia’s original developer’s bonding company. Our county fathers recognized many decades ago that such a road would put great strain on Alii Drive, so the Alii Highway was designed and land was acquired in order to have it feed traffic into the Alii Highway just makai of Keauhou Shopping Center. Well, we will soon have the bypass taking vehicles to and from the southern termination point. But without the Alii Highway, most of those vehicles will be dumped into the existing chaos on Alii Drive.
Does anyone have suggestions as to how we can motivate our mayor and council to address this?