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KCA Meeting Explores Alternative Transportation

Electric cars, safe streets, walking and biking highlighted at Kihei Community Association meeting.

September 27, 2012
Tom Blackburn-Rodriguez - Senior Contributing Writer (tominmaui@me.com) , The Maui Weekly

Tired of driving that noisy gas-guzzling car? Longing to take a walk or hop on your bike and head south to the soothing beaches of Wailea? Concerned about how your keiki will walk safely to school? Then the place you wanted to be last week was at the Tuesday, Sept. 18, meeting of the Kihei Community Association (KCA).

All of those subjects were covered, and opportunities were presented on how you and your family might enjoy the benefits of safe, non-polluting travel around South Maui now, and in the years to come.

Up first was Christine Andrews, the founding president of the Maui Electric Auto Association and the deputy director of the MauiEVA Project at the University of Hawai'i Maui College. Andrews, owner of an all-electric Nissan Leaf, helped dispel some of the mystery about electric vehicles.

Article Photos

Christine L. Andrews, founding president of the Maui Electric Auto Association, deputy director of the MauiEVA Project at the University of Hawai‘i Maui College and Nissan Leaf electric vehicle owner, helped dispel some of the mystery about electric vehicles at a recent Kīhei Community Association meeting.
Photo: Tom Blackburn-Rodriguez

For example, what is a plug-in car? The answer is a car that uses clean, affordable, domestic electricity for some or all of its energy. Models include an all-electric vehicle (EV) that stores 100 percent of its energy in a battery pack and a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) that stores energy in a battery pack and also has a gas engine to extend range.

Andrews challenged the audience to name brands of all electric plug-in vehicles that are now on the market. The brands are the Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Tesla Model S, Ford Focus EV and Honda Fit EV.

According to Andrews, the new 2025 fuel economy standard of 54.5 mpg recently announced by the Obama Administration will save Hawai'i enough money to buy an iPad for every teacher, provide a bicycle for every keiki under 10, a Koa canoe and a halau for every canoe club and enough money to run Maui County for half a year.

The new standards will cut Hawai'i's fuel use by a staggering 75 million gallons annually and reduce carbon pollution by 885,000 metric tons. Here's the best news, every all-electric vehicle and hybrid (electric-gas) all get better than 54.5 mpg now.

There are charging stations for electric vehicles at the Maui County building, Elleair Golf Club, 5A Rent-A-Space, Kahana Gateway, Kihei Town Center, Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa and Jim Falk Motors. Charging stations are coming soon to Costco; Walmart; Maui Memorial Medical Center; The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua; and the Hyatt hotels.

Changing gears, next up was Rich Brunner with a brief presentation on safe routes to schools. Brunner became involved in seeking safe routes to schools when he was taking his second grader to school and he was trying to figure out how to let her bike or walk to school on her own.

She had to cross a street, so Brunner did what any citizen would do and went to the county and asked if they could put a marked crosswalk on the street. After years of no response, he heard about the "Safe Routes to Schools" initiative of the federal government in partnership with state Department of Transportation.

He got a group together, applied for and received a $460,000 grant to begin the construction of a safe route to school. And what about his daughter, whose need prompted all this activism? She's doing fine and enjoying her freshman year--in college.

If you would like to get involved in the safe routes to schools movement, there is a "Safe Routes to School Workshop" on Friday, Oct. 12, at the 'Iao Intermediate School Conference Room, 260 S. Main St. in Wailuku. The all-day meeting runs from 8:40 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The workshop is offered free of charge, with lunch provided. Organizers suggest wearing comfortable walking shoes for outdoor walking exercises. To register, go to hawaii.gov/dot/highway/srts and click on the link under the announcement for Upcoming Workshops, or contact Tara Lucas, Safe Routes to School coordinator, at (808) 692-7696 or email saferoutestoschool@hawaii.gov. Early registration is strongly encouraged.

Completing the evening's presentations was David Goode, the Maui County director of public works, who outlined current and future plans for walkways, bicycle paths and the completion of the North/South Collector Road in Kihei.

Asked about how one might get a sidewalk in their neighborhood or repair one that is cracked and broken, Goode suggested contacting his department with a specific request and advocating the Maui County Council for inclusion in the upcoming budget. Goode can be contacted at 270-7845.

KCA also announced that it is accepting applications for board of director membership. Information on how to apply can be found at GoKihei.org.

To learn more about electric vehicles, go to www.mauieva.org or www.electricauto.org, or drop by the Maui County Fair Corporate Tent Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 27 to 31, during fair hours.

 
 

 

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