We complain a lot about the traffic on our roadways. (Me, included.) Yet, we don’t seem to want to give up our cars.
Why is that?
I thought about this recently because May is Oahu Bike Month, a challenge by the Hawaii Bicycling League to get residents to bike 100 miles or more in a month. (This is part of the National Bike Challenge, which runs from May 1 to Sept. 30.)
So far, the league has held several events including Bike to School Day (May 8), Hele on Kakaako (May 12) and Bike to Work Day (May 17). Coming up are Bike to Shop Weekend (May 24-26), where bicyclists can show their helmet or bike lock keys and get discounts from participating retailers, and the Holoholo Ride (May 31), which starts at the Hawaii State Capitol in downtown and ends at Eat The Street in Kakaako.
The goal is to get people on bikes, which does a few things: gets you moving (burns calories), gets you out of your cars (reduces traffic) and gets you there (loving life).
Not to sound too cynical here, but I doubt this effort makes a huge impact on getting people to go from four wheels to two.
Don’t get me wrong, I think biking is a great alternative to driving. I have two bikes, myself, and I travel around my neighborhood on them. But even for me, it’s hard to give up the convenience of a car.
Most of us do more than just go to work and come home. We have second jobs or kids to pick up or Pilates classes after work or a grocery list of items that won’t fit in the basket attached to our bikes. It’s not easy getting around on a bike when you’ve got errands to run.
And let’s be honest, I’m not a huge fan of biking on Oahu’s roadways. I remember once riding from Kalaeloa to Kapahulu and feeling very concerned for my life on a particular stretch of Nimitz Highway. Our roads aren’t the friendliest to bikers, and I would rather be safe than smeared on asphalt.
Would you give up your car for a bicycle — and all of its benefits? Or are you, like me, attached to your car?
I used to ride a lot for exercise way back with a large group there was safety in numbers but, the roads are way too dangerous nowadays. Drivers are really impatient and aggressive too.
Back then there were bills proposed to provide showers and lockers for bicyclists at work places – but of course those bills didn’t pass. The lawmakers didn’t want to acknowledge that when you bike you sweat and get dirty – hard to go to work like that.
Its one thing to want people to ride instead of drive but without the facilities like bike ways and showers and lockers etc. it won’t happen.
You said it. Oahu’s roads aren’t very conducive to bikes. Living in Mililani, I would have to bike along Kamehameha Hwy through Kipapa Gulch to get to town. That stretch of road is dangerous enough in a car let alone on a bike.
I’d rather walk than bike. When we lived Ewa it was easy to walk to the little strip mall that had a crack seed store, Foodland, L&Ls and a Blockbuster. Here in NC I can walk to a lot of stuff as well. So I had to think why I would use a bike. I used to love them. Then it hit me, there are just too damn many people texting and driving regardless of laws saying not to and once a month or so people plow into a bike.
A dedicated bike only road would do it for me. Short of that I have fond memories of the red Schwinn two speed I had as a kid. As Kermit once said, ‘if frogs couldn’t jump I’d be gone with the Schwinn.’
You were in Portland not too long ago and probably noticed how many people were commuting by bike – even having food businesses that revolved all around being on bikes (cookies delivered by bike anyone?!). And all the research points to what a positive influence on the economy it has had (read: jobs!). But that didn’t just happen, nor did it just happen in places like the Netherlands. It took strong moves by politicians, transportation bureaus, grass roots organizations, and the support of the people to make these places bike meccas. Once you’ve been in those societies, you see it’s all worth it. Unfortunately, Hawai’i is not known for its political will nor a forward thinking populace. Just look at rapid transit to see how dysfunctional the state operates (and by that comment, I mean HART should have been built 20 years ago).
Hello Cat, back in the 80’s I biked a lot, it was part of my training as I did bicycle racing and triathlons. I biked to work everyday rain or shine, about a 25 mile around trip. That was back then, far less traffic than today. I would be scared to bike today, more traffic and people with that ainokea attitude. This place is not a bicycle friendly town.
Hawai`i, despite having some of the best weather year round, has some of the worst bicycle infrastructure anywhere. Contrast that to where I live now in the NW, and it’s like a night and day difference. I would never consider riding a bicycle on any of the streets on any of the islands in the State of Hawai`i. With the lack of infrastructure and the poor attitudes and driving habits of drivers, you’re a hood ornament waiting to happen. Why take the chance? To say that politicians and others missed the boat on this one, would be a huge understatement. But hey, what do I care, I don’t live there anymore. If you folks there want to get bicycle lanes or anything else put in place, you’re going to have to convince the politicians, news media, the public, and everyone else that it is the right thing to do. Good luck on that. It’ll take about as long as it took to get the Nimitz Hwy Viaduct and the H3 completed.
Two big additional benefits: reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and saving money on gas and parking. I would love to bike, but I value my life too much to try in this city. Our politicians need to travel to Amsterdam and see how bike-friendly is properly done. A very inspiring place.
I used to ride the bike a lot. To and from school. To and from work. Road the bike around the island — the entire physical island. Through the cane fields of Ewa, what is now Kapolei.
Sadly, I gave it up because the streets are so unsafe with drivers. If one can’t avoiding getting hit with a car (my last car was hit three times), one doesn’t stand a chance on a bike.
Otherwise, I’d love to ride a bike to work and play!
We will all give up our cars, and our driver’s licenses one day, if we live long enough, but not for bikes. For a bike, now? I’d do it if gasoline hit $11 per gallon, or if my employer stopped paying me for mileage and parking when I have to drive somewhere for work other than my office. I have a traveling job, and I have to go where the work is. Giving up my car fo personal use would be much easier to do.
It would limit my mobility but it would be worth it. Now, to get to my weekend house, I’d probably have to rent a car. For about one weekend per month, it would actually be much cheaper to rent than to own one.
I agree that it’s too hard to pass up the convenience of a car. I love biking, but not as a serious mode of transportation; that seems too dangerous. It’s more of an activity in my mind.
Just subsribed to eyechow.com. Very interesting blog.
I do not disagree with the state of our city, and the inherent dangers riding a bike on Oahu. That being said, I ride A LOT. I work mostly from home, and I find myself running errands as well as taking some meetings close to home on my bike. I know all of the shortcuts between Kaimuki to Waikiki to Downtown to avoid the nutzoid drivers (and I use them). Plus, I am anal about using good safety gear.
I have noticed the increased number of bicyclist on the streets the last few years. Some are good, some are accidents waiting to happen. My observation for those impending accidents are the same for most of our drivers… LACK OF ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU’RE DOING, AND WHERE IN THE WORLD YOU ARE! I am hyper aware on these streets. And, I promise you, I am hard to miss on my bike.
I have found that I am less stressed after a foray on my bike, than I am after I step out of my car. (road rage, anyone?) But I still don’t see any Costco trips, on the bike, in my future.
Hi Cat, I work for the Hawaii Bicycling League and I promoted/organized most of the Bike Month activities this past May. We made a concentrated effort in May because ‘Bike Month’ is something that bicycling organizations nationwide promote. I view it as an opportunity to reach out to people and nudge them to get the old rusty bike tuned up and back on the road – or to inspire someone new to bicycling to take it up.
Gym memberships spike in January for a reason; people need an impetus to make changes to their lives. This concept is what is behind the activities HBL held in May.
As far as making a huge impact – though we aspire to change the tide over time, we don’t expect that all of a sudden people who live here will turn out in droves on the underdeveloped bicycle network. We’re in a chicken before the egg situation in Hawaii. People don’t feel safe riding because we lack infrastructure, but we can’t demand for infrastructure if there are not enough people riding.
HBL’s mission is not to get people to convert from four wheels to two, it is for getting people to try two, to enjoy two, and to choose two over four more often. If we do that one person at a time, we hope the ripple effect will spread.
An member recently told me that our Cycle 100 Challenge in May inspired her to get back on her bike, and that her she noticed that her her mood was noticeably better as a result. It’s these kind of stories that keep us motivated.
HBL recently topped 1000 members, as we grow, our voice gets louder, our influence is stronger, and it will change the paradigm. Please join us and help us make Hawaii the cycling paradise it should be!