The Rail is coming …
And bicycling is going to be a big part of the story!
This page is designed to provide you information on why and how bikes and rail are going to work together to change our communities for the positive. A lot of action is needed to make this work. And your involvement through attending community meetings, submitting testimony and being an advocate is essential to making the needed action a reality! Please read on and get involved!
What do bikes have to do with rail???
The 20-mile 21-station Honolulu rail system will link Kapolei to Ala Moana Center. The rail will bring not only a new transit system, but will reshape our communities away from the car-centric and towards the people-centric. Bicycling will play a giant role in the success of the rail and planned transit-oriented development changes around rail stations. Every rail trip will be multi-modal, many will walk half or even more than a mile to get to stations, but bikes will allow those that live further away to use the system. The numbers tell the story – 227,000 people live within 1 mile of a rail station (a reasonable walking distance) and 513,000 live within 3 miles of a rail station (a reasonable biking distance).
But big changes are needed to make cycling to the rail stations safe, accessible and convenient! This means making sure bikes are accommodating on the rail (see Bikes on the Rail section), making sure there are places to lock bikes at stations (see Bikes at the Rail section), and most importantly, making sure there are dedicated bikeways connecting to stations (see Biking to the Rail section).
If we do it right, the result will be more people bicycling, more people taking transit, more transportation choices, healthier lives, more liveable communities, and less money spent on transportation.
HBL has been working with Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, the City Department of Transportation Services, the state Department of Transportation, elected officials, and other key actors to ensure the needed actions are being taken. Much still needs to be done! You’re involvement is ESSENTIAL to make this all happen! Please read on and get involved!
The Basics on the Rail
The 20-mile, 21-station rail system will link East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center. This length is considered “the minimum operable system” and eventual extensions are planned east to UH Manoa and west to West Kapolei.
The rail is planned to run between 4:00am and midnight, with turns coming every 5-11 minutes. Each train has a capacity of 800. Each station will be covered and elevated.
Check out the HART website for more information and the latest on progress.
Who can bike to the Rail?
There is going to be limited car parking at rail stations, so it’s crucial that people can access stations by foot or bike. People are unlikely to travel more than 15-30 minutes to get to a station – by foot this means around 1 mile and by bike it means around 3 miles (supposing no big hills!). The benefit from bringing bicycles to the equation is massive – there are 513,000 residents and 432,000 jobs within 3 miles of a station, compared to 227,000 residents and 288,000 jobs within 1 mile.
Bikes on the Rail
Allowing people to bring their bikes on the rail and designing stations such that it is practical for someone to get bike in and out of the stations are essential for combined bike-rail trips. Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) is taking positive steps!
Policy allowing bikes on the rail at any time
Bikes will be allowed on the train at all times. This was one of HBL’s biggest concerns, as many rail systems prohibit bicycles on board during rush hour. Fortunately, HART has decided that these restrictions aren’t needed (following the foot steps of Portland).
Bike racks in each train
Bike hooks for 4 bikes will be provided on each train. While cyclists should use these if available, if they are all taken you’ll still be able to bring your bike on board.
Bike channels and elevators to get bikes up stations
There will be two options to get your bike up the elevated station platform: stairs will be outfitted with a channel that allow for the bike to be rolled up the stairs (see image below for example); and, each station will have one elevator that allows bikes (please note that this elevator will be the primary access for disabled, so lines may exist).
Bikes at the Rail
While it’s important for people to be able to take bikes on the rail, it’s even more important for people to have a convenient and secure place to the lock their bike at the stations and for a bikeshare system to provide an option to bike for those that don’t have a bike with them.
Short & Long Term Parking at the Stations
As 2013, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) had determined that providing bike racks for only 10-20 bikes at each station was sufficient. Seeing this as completely inadequate, HBL has been strongly advocating for additional parking. In the subsequent time there have been three positive changes –
1. HART has committed to installing additional secured bike parking (bike shelters or bike lockers) in the 9 stations between Middle Street and Ala Moana.
2. HART applied for and received $200K in funding in March 2016 to create a secured bike parking station accommodating 40 bikes with room for a bike fix-it station at the Chinatown station.
3. The City Department of Transportation Services (DTS) has agreed to provide additional bike parking for rail stations. They have worked to advance this effort in two big ways: 1. A demonstration secured bike shelter accommodating 20-25 bikes was installed at the Middle Street Transit Center (site of the future Middle St station) in March 2016 and is already receiving use. 2. In early 2016, DTS successfully applied for $400K in federal funding, which will matched by $100K in City funds, to install bike shelters (modeled on the Middle Street shelter) at 10 transit stations.
520,000 will live within a 3-mile bikeable distance of a rail station and many of these people don’t own a bike. Bikeshare is going to be a great option to allow them to bike and take the rail. Bikeshare is a system of bike docks where subscribers can grab a bike and return it to any other dock. HBL has been supporting the effort to the establish a robust bikeshare system on Oahu since 2011. And the long effort is near bearing fruit.
In 2014, Bikeshare Hawaii (BSH) was created as a new non-profit to establish and run a bikeshare system first in Honolulu and then extending throughout Oahu and the State. The effort has received $2.1M in public funds and BSH is near raising the remainder of the funds to get the system up in running in late 2016 or early 2017. The initial system will services Honolulu between Chinatown and Kaimuki and will be specifically oriented to integrate with the rail system (once rail is operable). Early expansion areas are targeted around the rail stations west of Chinatown. Click here for the full 2014 Bikeshare Organizational Study.
Biking to the Rail
The most important factor to making biking and the rail work are dedicated bikeways and bicycle-friendly streets connecting rail stations and people’s homes, work, and other destinations. This is without a doubt the area where the most work is needed to make biking and rail work! And truth is, we can’t work fast enough, but projects are underway that will significantly improve these connections. This is also without a doubt the area where your involvement and support is most needed – so please get involved!
Budgeting for Bikeways to Rail
In March 2016, the City Council unanimously passed Resolution 16-2 urging the prioritizing of infrastructure, including for walking and biking improvements, in areas around rail stations.
In May 2016, the City Council passed the Capital Improvement Program Budget that allocated the greatest ever level of funding to bicycle and pedestrian improvements around rail stations. The Fiscal Year 2017 Capital Improvement Budget allocated $5.35M directly to bicycle and pedestrian improvements around rail stations. The budget includes an additional $1.2M for yet undetermined bikeway projects, some of which will likely be dedicated to improvements connecting to stations. The budget includes an additional $19.4M in funding for transportation improvements around rail stations that will include some associated bikeway improvements.
Several major projects are already in the implementation process that will create important new and enhanced bikeway connections to the rail.
Building on the Pearl Harbor Historic Trail
The 5.5-mile Pearl Harbor Historic Trail is within half-a-mile of the 3 stations in the Pearl City/Aiea area. Three separate projects are underway to enhance the existing multi-use path and create connections to two of three nearby stations.
The Middle Loch Connector will create an approximately 1,000-foot multi-use path linking the the Pearl Harbor Historic Trail to Leeward Community College and the accompanying station. The project is fully funded and scheduled to be completed by early to mid 2017.
The PHHT-Aloha Stadium-Valor in the Pacific Bike/Pedestrian Connector plan is underway to create a plan for a multi-use path connection from the Aloha Stadium to the Pearl Harbor Historic Trail to the north and Arizona Memorial to the south. The project, which will involve work on Navy and state lands, is a joint State-City-US Central Federal Lands project. Construction isn’t yet funded as alignment and costs aren’t yet known.
The Pearl Harbor Historic Trail enhancements project is going to install a concrete and wider path, new lighting, and other improvements on part of the trail. The project is currently in planning and the FY17 budget includes $900K in funds to construct some of the improvements.
Protected Bike Lane Network in the Urban Core
The City Department of Transportation Services has a draft plan for development of a network protected bike lanes throughout the urban core of Honolulu. This is a giant step as the last version of the Oahu Bike Plan (2012) did not include protected bike lanes. The priority for implementation are facilities linking to the rail stations.
The South Street Protected Bike Lane project will create a 2-way protected bike lane linking from the King Street protected bike lane to Ala Moana Blvd. The bikeway will link directly to the Civic Center station. The project has already went through multiple meetings and is nearing implementation.
The Halekauwila Street Protected Bike Lane project will create a 2-way protected bike lane linking between Richards Street and Ward Avenue. The bikeway will directly access the Downtown, Civic Center, and Kakaako stations. This project is in the planning stage. Due to it sharing the same road as the rail corridor, it will likely be implemented as part of the rail construction.
While no final decisions have been made Piikoi Street, Pensacola Street and Ward Avenue have been identified as additional high priority protected bike lane projects based on providing mauka-makai connection with rail stations and King Street.
Big Changes in Kapalama
The Transit Oriented Development plan includes big changes for the Kapalama area, including multi-use paths along the canal, a new bicycle and pedestrian bridge, and better bike/pedestrian connection linking to Honolulu Community College. The City has initiated a planning and design effort that will bring these improvements closer to reality.
HBL’s Minimum Grid Campaign
HBL’s Minimum Grid campaign is urging the City to develop 20 new miles of protected bike lanes and 20 new miles of bike paths, lanes, and routes by 2020. Ambitious, but completely doable (Chicago is doing 100 miles a year!), this would transform Honolulu and Oahu. The Minimum Grid would create the bikeway network needed to make cycling truly safe and accessible to thousands. This would allow for countless connections with the rail system and leverage our big investment to transform our community. The result will be more people bicycling, more people taking transit, more transportation choices, healthier lives, more liveable communities, and less money spent on transportation. Read more about the Minimum Grid campaign and add your name to the list of supporters here.
HBL’s and Your Role
HBL staff, members and volunteers have been working hard to ensure that bikes are allowed on the train, that bikes are accommodated at stations, and that there are bikeways to rail stations. While our elected officials and City departments deserve a tremendous recognition for their hard work, they need community members supporting their efforts and pushing them to double down. Our Bike Advocacy Team and Regional Advocacy Groups are playing a big role in doing this. Please get involved in these efforts!