A New Bike Path for Maui?

Photo Credit: Kjell Linder
Mayor Alan Arakawa rides with the Maui Bicycling League along a new proposed bike path. Photo Credit: Kjell Linder

Aloha, I’m CORAL’s newest addition based in Hawaiʻi. As a native Hawaiian, my passion for protecting our natural environment is a deep part of who I am. I was born and raised on Oahu, and growing up spent my summers surfing with my dad, paddling canoe with my sister, and working in the Lo’i (taro patch) with my aunty. We have an important value of mālama ‘aina in my culture, which means caring for the land. This responsibility is a big part of our identity and is the basis for a lot of our traditional beliefs. So I can’t help but get really excited when I see our island come together on sustainability initiatives.

That’s how I felt a couple of weeks ago when we partnered with the Maui Bicycling League (MBL) to take Alan Arakawa, the mayor of Maui, on a bike ride along our island’s west coast.

A couple of month’s ago, I was talking with CORAL’s Program Manager from Hawaiʻi, Wes Crile, about how much we’d love to build a coastal bike path designed entirely with low impact design (LID) principles. Using LID principles like vegetated swales, pervious pavement, and rain gardens would help prevent runoff and sediment from entering the ocean—a big threat to Hawaiʻi’s coral reefs. Instead, it would filter and sink it deep into the ground, even recharging our aquifer. A bike path is perfect for this as it generally follows a contour line of the land, cutting across the watershed at a specific elevation. The path could act like a barrier for stormwater runoff coming down from above.

The new proposed bike path would extend along the coast from Olowalu to Lahaina. Photo Credit: Kjell Linder

Not long after this conversation, we started talking with the MBL, who were putting together plans to build a bike path along Maui’s west coast, from Olowalu to Lahaina. This area has some of the best reefs on the island, but right now they are heavily affected by sediment running off from the nearby mauka, or upslope, region and into the water during heavy rain events. This was a perfect opportunity for a partnership.

The CORAL team is now collaborating with MBL to design plans for Hawaiʻi’s first ever LID bike path. In addition, we are working to secure funding and support. On June 29, Mayor Alan Arakawa came on a bike ride to see the area and provided suggestions on how to keep the project moving forward.

I’m so excited about this project and am eager to forge ahead when we secure the necessary funds and permits to start construction. Stay tuned for more information about this project, and be sure to plan a trip to Hawaiʻi—you will want to ride along the new bike path once it’s completed!

Watch this great video of the mayor’s ride, shot and compiled by Zoltan Milaskey.

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