Successful Honolulu Open Street Program Extended
Open streets initiatives temporarily close streets to automobile traffic and open them to cyclists, pedestrians, and other modes of non-motorized transportation. They are an increasingly common strategy in cities and regions that are seeking innovative ways to promote more sustainable modes of transportation, reduce traffic congestion, achieve economic and public health improvement, and provide more space for recreation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Honolulu's Open Street Sundays blocks off vehicle traffic on Kalakaua Avenue, the main thoroughfare in the tourist district of Waikiki, to allow walkers, joggers, bicyclists, and skateboarders to freely use the road for some fun and exercise. The goal is to provide residents with a safe stretch of space for outdoor activities, while drawing people to businesses in Waikiki that have been suffering amidst the steep drop in tourism as a result of COVID-19.
The program was originally scheduled to end after four Sundays on July 5, but organizers have decided to extend it to the end of the month due to its popularity. According to Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, "This program has been a tremendous success … I think it’s a welcome thing for our residents and our businesses during this slow period of time in Waikiki."