Connecting Communities, Promoting Healthy Living, Preserving the Environment
The notion of a bike path is not new to Hawaii. In fact, the state has had a Bike Plan since 1977. Construction of Kauai’s bike paths began more recently, in 2000. And now, after three years of planning, the North Shore of Kauai will finally be getting a bike path of their own.
In a nation where obesity and heart disease are some of the most common health threats, and in a state with reduced energy consumption goals set forth by the Clean Energy Initiative, the North Shore Kauai Bike Path is offering one more way for residents to stay healthy, reduce fuel consumption, and enjoy the natural beauty of the island.
Of course, nothing worthwhile comes easily. Construction of a shared-use path on Kauai’s East Shore was already well under way when plans for the North Shore Kauai Bike Path began in 2008. Noting the health and environmental benefits of a bike path, North Shore resident, Michelle Edwards, organized a community meeting to discuss biking and walking path options for the North Shore.
The cause quickly gained support from local non-profit, Kauai Path. In the same year, Kauai Path called on Landmark Consulting Services to plan a North Shore bike path. In April of the following year, a North Shore Bike and Pedestrian Path community meeting was held to discuss the benefits and challenges of the construction of a bike path, and allow for residents to participate in a mapping exercise, drawing up what they believed to be the best potential routes. In addition, Landmark Consulting began developing a North Shore Path Alternatives Report (NSPAR) that would highlight the benefits and feasibility of the proposed pathway.
Planners and supporters acknowledged challenges and potential roadblocks, but pushed forward, citing the benefits that outweighed these challenges. Kauai Path Board of Directors Secretary, Thomas Noyes, an avid supporter of the Eastside’s “Path That Goes By the Coast”, Ke Ala Hele Makalae, expressed his support of a similar pathway for the North Shore, stating in a 2009 interview with The Garden Island, “There are a number of options that may be very ambitious to undertake, but if we take up the challenge, the benefits are inspiring”.
In 2010, Kauai Path began fundraising and grant writing, finally receiving a federal grant earlier this year, from the Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) program of the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Now, as the North Shore Kauai Bike Path nears construction, planners are once again asking for community input. Residents are invited to share their thoughts by completing the Community Input Survey by June 30, 2011, in order to help determine the best bike route for Kauai’s North Shore community. All who submit a survey will be entered in a drawing for a Marin Stinson bicycle giveaway. There is no cost to submit the survey or to be eligible for the Marin bicycle giveaway, but the reward is great: A chance to be a part of an eco-friendly, community-focused collaboration and path construction, plus the possibility of winning a bicycle by which to enjoy the new bike path.
With the promise of a safe and scenic, fuel-free route between Kilauea, Princeville and Hanalei, it is no wonder this grassroots cause has gained so much support. Trails across the country are proving that biking and walking pathways increase healthy living, decrease fuel consumption and strengthen communities. Cycling or walking alone is good for physical and mental health. It can only be expected that doing so in a place with the amount of natural beauty found on Kauai will prove beneficial to individual’s health, as well as to that of the environment and community.