Bicyclist killed on Oahu continues to inspire change

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It’s been more than three years since Zach Manago was killed by a hit-and-run driver while riding his bike near Wheeler Army Airfield.

But his legacy lives on as his friends, family, and fellow bicyclists fight to make our roads safer for all.

Dozens of bicyclists and many friends of Zach Manago lined up at the state Capitol this morning to begin a two-day ride around the island hoping to make a statement

“Zach had a vision for a Hawaii that was full of bike lanes and bike paths where people could bike all the time and feel safe and comfortable,” Hawaii Bicycling League Executive Director Chad Taniguchi said.

Manago was hit and killed in December of 2010 while on a ride around Oahu.

Shortly before he died, he turned in a paper to one of his classes at HPU on his vision for a safer place for bicyclists. This a vision that his family wants to keep alive.

“It’s part of something we can carry on for him and we love to do for him,” Zach’s father Dennis Manago said.

In the past three years, the Hawaii Bicycling League said tremendous progress has been made.

legislation that passed- that doubles the jail times for drivers who seriously injure or kill vulnerable users of the road- like walkers, cyclists, road workers and police officers.

The city and state also passed laws that will change the face of our roadways.

“The complete street ordinance requires city to consider bike lanes are considered every time a new road is built or repaving,” explained Taniguchi.

An example of a city road that is being repaved and then retrofitted for bikes is on Waialae Avenue in Kaimuki.

By the end of this year, city crews will be converting a traffic lane in both directions into a “sharrow”- a lane where bikers will have the right of way just like the ones recently added along Kalakaua Avenue.

“For me, I’m passionate for doing even more. I think we need off grade or grade separated bike paths so another tragedy like Zach’s doesn’t happen,” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said.

The Mayor is proposing two off grade bike paths. One is from Downtown Honolulu to the UH Manoa’s campus and the other is along the rail transit route.

“Doing an off grade bike path under the rail system, the elevated part, it would go all 20 miles, I’d call it ‘Ride the Green Line’ under the rail line,” explained Caldwell.

And while bicyclists say that’s a good start, it’s just the beginning of their journey.

“We got a long long long way to go. The progress has been tremendous though,” Taniguchi said.

Its progress that Manago has helped to inspire.

“He’s up there smiling, looking down,” Dennis Manago said.

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