Many drivers taking King Street don’t quite know what to make of the green lane painted on the busy roadway.
But motorists better get used to the rules fast or face a hefty $200 fine.
Crews are still putting the finishing touches on the new two-mile long, soon-to-be-bicycle-exclusive lane on King Street, but some people are already using it and not everyone is familiar with it.
“It’s confusing for motorists,” said driver Stacey Walton.
When we were there, we saw some bicyclists going down the wrong way, a car sitting in the bike lane and drivers unfamiliar with the lane and rules merging into traffic unexpectedly, causing a backup.
“We only want bicyclists in the protected bike lane and it’s for everybody’s safety,” said Mike Formby, director of the city Department of Transportation Services.
Crews are painting berms so drivers don’t cross over into the lane, and they’re painting areas green to warn motorists and bicyclists where they might cross paths.
Pedestrians will also use it.
“So you’re going to get in an intersection where a bicyclist could run into a pedestrian in the crosswalk and then there’s going to be a motorist turning left and just like you drive down the street now and you have to look over the shoulder to make a sure a bicyclist isn’t coming, you have to do the same thing for this bike lane,” Formby said.
When the lane officially opens, bicyclists will be able to use it and travel in the same direction as traffic. Then, six months later, bicyclists will be able to use it and travel in both directions.
City officials say Honolulu will join 53 other communities in 24 states that have a protected bike lane.
“They encourage people to ride bikes because it’s a safe environment for them so it gets motorists out of cars and onto bikes and makes it safer for bicyclists who are trying to make that transition,” Formby said.
The lane will be ready by December and the city is trying to spread the word. Officials will also print out the rules and distribute them at more public meetings and businesses along the route.
“I think it’ll just take some time to get used to,” Walton said.
Officials will keep track of how many people use the bike lane and how many accidents and complaints there are.
If things go well, they might create a similar bike lane in other areas.