Bicycling in Hawaii: Get Out of the Road

Why is it that every city that has a perfect climate, beautiful scenery, and great weather for taking a bike ride if so dangerous for bikers?

Tuesday night the Civil Beat hosted the newest version of Civil Café. This is a forum where local news companies allow readers and members of the community in the newsroom to discuss the latest and most important topics that are affecting the community in Hawaii. This talk was moved from the newsroom to the Loft In Space located in the Kakaako’s Fresh Café.

The topic dealt with issues relating to Earth Day and one of the main topics was bicycling in Hawaii. People came from all over the island. Chad Taniguchi with the Hawaii Bicycling League along with Mike Formby who is the director of Honolulu’s Department of Transportation met with Sophie Cocke who is a reporter with Civil Beat.

This two hour conversation talked about bike paths such as a bike sharing program that is set for King Street. The challenges for drivers were also discussed. One member of the community felt every time they were on their bike they had to defend their right to be on the road. While cities in Europe such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen have 50 percent of their population using bikes as their main form of transportation, Oahu has only two percent of the population using bikes.

Even though most cities in Europe are cold and rainy most of the year the temperature in Oahu gets a low of 79 degrees and is often 90 degrees or above.

Change in on the way. The protected bike lanes that are being developed for King Street will be running by the end of the year. The mayor wants two way bikes lanes on King Street by the end of this year. It may not be possible to do this is such as short amount of time.

There are plans for bike lanes for Pensacola, South, and Piikoi streets. One problem with the lanes in Oahu is the risk for lawsuits for businesses and the neighborhood. Environmental assessments are needed to support bike lanes to show they have no negative impact on the area and will protect the neighborhood from lawsuits.

Changing attitudes is the best way to bring change to the community. The community needs to be remind of the healthy, monetary, and other benefits of biking rather than driving. There are also fines for violating bike lane rules. If a car is parked in the bike lane they can face fines of $35-$200 according to House Bill 1706.

One major issue for bikers in Hawaii is the attitude of drivers. Some bikers have reported being harassed by car drivers. Tiniguchi encourages anyone who is harassed or threatened to call 911 right away.

According to the people on the panel many drivers do not have the patience for bike lanes. Honolulu is one the Worst City for Traffic lists. Many people want the state and the federal government to spend more money on better road conditions then bike lanes and public transportation.