BY NATALIE IWASA – Imagine traveling through the City of Honolulu while enjoying the beautiful scenery and aloha spirit that encourages residents and visitors to commute through and explore our city. Now think about the mode by which you could travel if you had the choice. Biking, walking, or taking the bus are stress-relieving possibilities when you have the opportunity.
Unfortunately the view from the street is one of congestion and massive traffic jams. Overdevelopment and dependency on imported vehicles and fossil fuels have constrained our ability to travel efficiently to each destination–costing us dollars, lives and our sanity.
I believe that encouraging Complete Streets policy and funding will allow all travelers to safely commute to work, school, church and play, no matter their age, income level or neighborhood. Whether people are walking, biking, running with a baby stroller, skateboarding or riding on an ADA mobility vehicle, they should be accommodated on our public streets and by our complex network of transportation services.
In 2015, the Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization plans to spend almost $1.1 billion on our streets, highways and bridges. Most of the budget is allocated towards serving single occupancy vehicles and the rail project. Less than 1 percent of that state and federal funding will be spent on bicycle and pedestrian projects, severely underserving our non-motorized travelers. Increasing the percentage of the population utilizing alternative transportation decreases noise, congestion and traffic accidents. Active travelers also reduce their risk of chronic diseases and improve the social fabric of our community.
Fortunately the Honolulu City Council passed the Complete Streets Bill 26 in 2012—and now is the time to put the transportation budget to work and ensure that every citizen is able to enjoy his or her travels around our beautiful island. Please join me in supporting Complete Streets for everyone, and please support me with your vote on August 9.
1. Oahu MPO FY2015 Transportation Improvement Plan
2. Benefits of Complete Streets
Natalie Iwasa is a candidate for Honolulu City Council District 1 and a CPA living in Honolulu.