Traffic is more than a daily source of frustration for Kauaʻi residents, it comes with huge costs: including time away from family, missed job opportunities due to long commutes, lost business revenue because people avoid driving to town, and the high cost of carbon emissions. But simply building new roads is not the solution. The State of Hawaiʻi has only a small fraction of the funds necessary for road projects just to keep up with current demand. And countless studies have shown that new roads only end up encouraging more drivers who leave things just as congested as before.
While we may not be able to solve our island's traffic problem, we can ensure that nobody should have to spend an hour driving to work because they can't afford to live in Lihuʻe. The best way to reduce the amount of time we spend driving is to increase housing options so that people can choose to live in a place where they don't have to spend their lives in traffic. But, housing isn't the entire answer. Reducing traffic depends on pedestrian transportation options; yet we can't walk, ride our bikes, or even take the bus without connectivity in our land-use patterns; and that connectivity depends on higher-density and mixed-use developments. The county council has a powerful role to play in creating livable, walkable communities that allow more people to go about their day without having to sit in traffic.
Ensure that new housing developments are located in existing job centers. Require that new resorts meet workforce housing mandates on site.
Increase the Kauaʻi Bus to every half hour during weekdays.
Support through the State either a cap on rental cars or increased fees while incentivizing alternate forms of transportation for tourists.
Encourage developments that incorporate commercial and residential buildings, higher densities, pedestrian connectivity, and strong transit systems.
Ensure county affordable housing projects are located within job centers.
Rebuild and maintain roadway infrastructure to the highest standard, with a goal of zero annual traffic fatalities.
Reduce the amount of time people spend in traffic.
Provide convenient, safe multi-modal transport options including walking, cycling, and public transit.
Prepare for a future of shared ownership of driverless cars.
For more of my thoughts on traffic, check out some of these published pieces: