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Here is a fun activity you may want to consider on your Hawaii vacation. New bicycle-rental stations in Kailua make it possible to tour the area without a car. Two stations appeared recently, with bicycles added just in the past week or so. This one is near the main bus stop in downtown Kailua, where buses arrive from Honolulu. It would be handy for folks who want to bus to the windward side of the island and then ride around. The other is near the Fat Boys restaurant on the way to Kailua beach. A week ago, the rack and map were in place but the bicycles hadn’t yet arrived. Even so, the map was helpful for tourists wandering along the road trying to find the beach. (The beach is nearby but virtually unmarked until you get very close to it, making word-of-mouth the primary means of location.)
As convenient as the bicycles may be for visitors, the target of the project is locals. It is one of the successful projects selected in a competitive bid process by the Department of Health’s Healthy Hawaii Initiative, funded by tobacco settlement funds. According to the Hawaii B Cycle website, “The pilot bike sharing program in Kailua is a proof of concept, meant to determine if such a program can be successful in Hawaii. Similar programs have alleviated traffic congestion and improved public health in many cities in Europe, and they are being deployed in Denver, Portland, Minneapolis, Washington D.C. and many other major cities, most of which do not benefit from the favorable year-round weather that Hawaii offers.”
Kailua was chosen because it is a small area with a high population density and short commute distances. The website estimates that four to eight bike stations would service the town, so more may be on the way. The goal of the program is to get people out of cars and onto bikes for short trips, hoping they will also be more alert to cyclists on the road when they get back behind the wheel.
The membership levels are a 24 hour pass ($4), 30 days ($30) or annual ($50). That’s just to allow you to rent/share the bike. The first half hour is free but after that there is an additional charge of $2.50 per half hour up to $100/day. (But if you loose the bike, it will cost you a thousand dollars. Yikes!)
I applaud anything that makes Hawaii more bike-friendly. If the desire for a healthy lifestyle isn’t enough to get people out of their cars occasionally, maybe the high cost of gasoline here will be. Let’s hope the residents and visitors to Kailua make this project a success!