Honolulu rolls toward bike share in 2016
BY FERNANDO PACHECO
It’s been more than a year since we last checked in with the progress of Honolulu’s first bike share program. With a draft version of the bike share station map, Honolulu’s Bike Share Working Group was in the process of conducting a bike share organizational study to gauge support from the public and private sectors.
Fifteen months later, a non-profit known as Bikeshare Hawaii has been formed to launch and manage the bike share program in Hawaii.
With Lori McCarney (CEO) and Ben Trevino (president and CEO) at the handle bars, the program is on its way to becoming a reality. The initial phase of 200 stations and 2,000 bikes are expected to roll out in the first quarter of 2016.
Trevino says there are three major tasks to complete in the current planning phase:
• Bikeshare is looking to raise about $8 million from community partners.
• The group is also trying to identify sites for bike stations.
• And they’re designing the system, along with getting vendors and equipment.
In order to raise awareness for the program, Bikeshare Hawaii recently welcomed two, two-wheeled visitors from the mainland: “Mike the Citi Bike” from New York City and “Jen the Pronto Cycle” from Seattle, Wash. The bikes are practically superstars in their own communities; they even have their own hashtags (#MikeTheCitiBike and #JenTheProntoCycle).
The bikes were test driven on Honolulu city streets, and the equipment gave bike share proponents a chance to see the possibilities of the program. It also gave Bikeshare Hawaii ideas for improvement. For instance, McCarney pedaled “Jen” around town in her heels, and saw the need for more rubber grip on the pedals. Trevino rode “Mike” through Honolulu, and said multiple speeds for various inclines would be a good idea.
Jen is the newer of the two, with Seattle’s program launched just a few months ago. Some of her latest advancements include having seven speeds and the ability to be checked out of a station using a key fob.
In addition to looking for the right equipment, Bikeshare Hawaii is looking to coordinate with other transit developments in the city. The group is currently in talks with the Honolulu Rail Transit Project to ensure rail commuters have easy access to the bikes. Bikeshare is also speaking to the city about putting up stations near protected bike lanes, the first of which being the King Street Cycle Track, opened in December of 2014.
Bikeshare’s central mission is giving more commuters easy, affordable access to bikes, without having to go out and buy one.
Does that mean bicycle shops are against the program? McCarney says, it’s just the opposite.
“Bike share tends to stimulate more biking infrastructure faster because you get people who aren’t normally on bikes on a bike for a short trip and they’re more supportive of the infrastructure,” he said. “It also gets them to go out and rent a bike for bike tours or to get bike accessories — there are a lot of different spinoff ideas that could come off of more people getting on bikes.”
Speaking of accessories, Bikeshare Hawaii highly recommends the use of helmets. And all children 16 and under are required to wear one by law.
For tourists who didn’t pack their bike helmets, McCarney is looking to partner with local businesses to have helmets readily available — perhaps as a unique souvenir. The bikes will also be equipped with pedal-powered lights that illuminate under all lighting conditions.
As for Mike and Jen, the two-wheeled out-of-towners have since returned to their home cities. Highlights of their trip included a special meeting with Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and a rooftop ride above the HawaiiNewsNow studios with Billy V. The bikes also made appearances at farmers markets, biathlons and charity walks.
McCarney says he’s excited about working out the details and launching this healthy service. “This is about doing something that’s really significant in Hawaii,” he said. “It can really make a huge difference in this community. It’s an accelerator – it gives people an opportunity to start breaking paradigms of how they do things and think about doing things differently.”
Fernando Pacheco is a blogger for being 808, a content specialist at HMSA and a media jack-of-all trades. He’s dedicated to seeking a healthier lifestyle for himself and his family. Join him on his journey on our blog and on social media! Chat with him directly on Twitter.