Guest Blogger: Don Weisman, Hawaii Government Relations Director
American Heart Association advocates recently helped defeat a bill that would have potentially slowed the growth of new bicycle paths on Oahu.
The American Heart Association joined with the Hawaii Bicycling League, the State Department of Health, the Hawaii Public Health Institute and other community organizations to provide overwhelming testimony in opposition to proposed Bill 68 that would have required a City Council resolution for every individual bikeway project. The AHA testified that the bill would add an additional roadblock to the creation of new bikeways, adding time to each project, which could increase the cost of those projects. The Oahu Bike Plan, City budgeting, and project specific planning processes already provide opportunity for public input and robust Council involvement. The City is also required to update the bike plan every five years, offering public and City Council opportunity for input. The AHA supported Honolulu’s landmark Complete Streets ordinance, passed by the City Council in 2012, which made consideration of bikeways a requirement with all new construction, reconstruction, and maintenance projects.
Based on community testimony and feedback, Councilmember Trevor Ozawa, Bill 68's introducer, requested that the bill be deferred and stated that he intends to work with City’s Department of Transportation Services to come up with a positive alternative to new bikeway planning that will include transparency in planning and ample opportunities for public input.
The AHA will continue to monitor any new proposals to ensure the best outcome for bikeways and Complete Streets so that health objectives are integrated within transportation and community planning to create more active communities, more balanced transportation systems and a cost-effective opportunities to improve public health.