Ask The Mayor: Why Isn’t the New Bike-Passing Law Better Enforced?

May 19, 2019, 12:15 PM HST · Updated May 18, 11:44 PM
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Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino answers some of the most-asked questions submitted to his staff.

Q:  The Safe Passing 3 Foot Bill, which requires drivers to keep a minimum of 3 feet between their vehicle and bicyclists while passing them, has been an official law since July 2, 2018. However, from riding daily on the roads here it seems that the motorists, commercial trucks and buses have not gotten the message that this law exists. In the mainland, there are signs up all over the roads in their states. Is there a plan to place signs up here on Maui? If so, when? Also, if we do encounter a dangerous pass (less than 3 feet) and we have video of this incident, can we take this video to the police for action against this motorist?

A:  Mahalo for this important question on road safety and protection of our bicyclists.

Since this is a state law, we have been following the lead of the Hawaii Department of Transportation. My staff has been told that they don’t have any current plans to install signs related to this law, but are reminding the public that May is National Bike to School Month and hope to increase awareness of this new law.

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So far, the Maui Police Department is not aware of any complaints regarding this new law and it does not appear that the courts have received any cases either. However, the department takes this issue seriously and encourages drivers and cyclists to safely share the road with all users.

Having a video may help police take action, but you also would need to prove the distance was less than three feet, get the license plate of the vehicle and identify the driver as part of your complaint. I am told, though, that there may be problems enforcing this law on many of Maui County’s narrow roads where drivers do not have adequate room to give bicyclists without crossing into the opposite lane.

I am disappointed to hear that Hawaii is one of the worst bicycle-friendly states in the U.S., but I can tell you that Maui County is helping to lead the charge in improving bikeways as well as walkways.

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I recently returned from a four-day trip to Georgia for a series of intensive classes on promoting walkability through policies, systems and environmental support. I joined Maui Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Executive Director Lauren Armstrong, Long Range Planning Division Administrator Pam Eaton and Public Works Traffic Engineer Nolly Yagin as their required elected official.

Maui MPO is currently working on the Hele Mai Maui 2040 Transportation Plan, which includes multiuse paths and Complete Streets that make it safe and comfortable to walk and bike around the island. Two federally funded projects set to move forward in the next couple of years are the West Maui Greenway multiuse path, with a first phase being planned for Kapunakea Street to Lahaina Civic Center, and Onehe ʻe Avenue Complete Street that fronts Kahului Community Park and connects people to housing, schools, shopping and recreation. Both of these projects will include dedicated space for people walking and biking.

Maui Bicycling League (MBL) is hosting a series of group bike rides on third Saturdays with support from Hawaii Tourism Authority, with the goal to promote bicycling as a fun activity for residents and visitors. Riding in small groups and following traffic laws is a great way to safely enjoy Maui’s scenery and show demand for expanding our multimodal network of bike and pedestrian-friendly facilities.

For more information on the group bike rides, visit https://www.mauibike.org/. For more information on the Maui MPO and its initiatives, visit https://mauimpo.org/.

Want to Ask The Mayor?

Submit your Maui County related questions to Mayor Michael Victorino by email at [email protected], by phone at (808) 270-7855 or via mail to 200 S. High Street, ninth floor, Wailuku, Hawaiʻi 96793.

Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column.

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