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Baldwin Bike Path is a Bad Plan

Other bike path projects will serve local residents and give the county a bigger bang for its buck.

January 23, 2014
Dave DeLeon - Contributing Writer , Maui Weekly

This commentary is in response to "It's Been a Long Road for Baldwin Avenue Bike Path" in the Jan. 9 Maui Weekly.

Warren McCord is good citizen, someone who has done much for Maui's environment. But when it comes to the Baldwin Avenue project, he suffers from selective memory.

I can attest to his complaint that getting a bikeway project built on Maui can be a long, tiring slog, with long bureaucratic delays in the process. However, he has forgotten that a key reason that the Baldwin project is taking so long is that Maui cyclists absolutely opposed it and even the downhill bike companies that the project is intended to benefit don't like it.

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Dave DeLeon has been and continues to be an advocate for the Northshore Greenway, a route connecting Kahului to Pa‘ia.

As someone who has spent 25 years advocating for making Maui a safer place to bicycle, it pains me to oppose a bikeway project. But Baldwin Avenue project is simply wrong-headed--something that a non-cyclist from Kula dreamed up to save trees along Baldwin Avenue.

Here's what's wrong with it:

It would be too expensive. It would take about $15 million to build. That would suck up all of the funds available out of all of the other bike projects that would truly benefit the local community.

It would be built for tourists, not residents. It's about getting the downhill bikes off the road, and not about investing our limited bikeway funds where they will provide the best benefit to our local communities.

It would be too dangerous. The grade coming down Baldwin Avenue gets up to 8 percent, easily allowing downhill speeds of 30 mph. Warren's proposal calls for a 10-foot wide, two-way path. Imagine trying to ride uphill on that narrow path when flocks of downhill riders--some of whom have not been on a bicycle in 40 years-- come barreling down at you at 30 mph. And imagine the county maintaining that narrow path so that it will be safe for high downhill speeds.

It would too steep for the casual rider to climb.

I have been and continue to be an advocate for the Northshore Greenway, a route connecting Kahului to Pa'ia. After 22 years of effort, we are finally close to completing the route. This route is flat, safe, and although it is not complete, already serves as a non-motorized connection between these two communities.

The South Maui community also wants a pair of routes built--the Kihei Greenway and the Waipuilani path. Lahaina needs a path as well, and there are plans to build a path connecting Wailuku to Waikapu along Waiale Road.

These projects will give the county a much bigger bang for its buck because they truly serve local residents. Because they are all on flat land, they will be safe and the average person will be able to use them.

This is why Warren's path is taking so long to build: because it is too expensive, in the wrong place and does not aim to serve the local community.

Because of that, it will continue receive consistent opposition from Maui's cyclists--like myself.



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