Why bikeshare should be part of every resident's transportation diet

By Morgan Pōmaikaʻi Lee, 2021 Biki Ambassador

Any of these situations sound familiar?

  • You've circled around for 10 minutes looking for parking before settling for a spot a 15-minute walk from your destination.
  • You've decided not to attend something because you don't want to spend $20 to park. 
  • You're going to carpool to hang out on the other side of the island with friends but they want you to meet them at their house and you don't want to leave your car there all day.
  • Your bike, your primary mode of transportation, has a flat tire.
  • You wanted to bike there, but it's going to be really inconvenient to return that way after you do your grocery shopping.
  • You're spending too much money on gas.
  • You can take TheBus, but the route isn't direct and takes twice as long with all the frequent stops. 
  • You're going to arrive together but don't want the pressure of leaving when everyone else does.
  • The prices of ridesharing apps turned nightmarish seemingly overnight.

If you nodded your head in frustration to any of these scenarios, I feel your pain. Most of us don't think we devote significant amounts of mental energy to transportation, but working through the logistics of getting here and there can easily turn into spending 30 extra minutes on Google Maps and texting our friends. As a bike owner who doesn't have my own car, one of the biggest hacks of my adult life has my bikeshare membership. Time and time again, bikeshare has offered my friends and I alternatives, solutions, and back-ups without us having to spend more money or waste time problem solving. And, when we're not just turning to bikes to overcome any of these logistical obstacles, incorporating Biki into our daily lives keeps the cost of living down on an expensive island.

As a reminder: Kama'āina pay as little as $15 per month for unlimited access to bikes at over 130 Biki Stops across downtown Honolulu. If you're a Hawaii resident and haven't taken advantage of this deal yet, I urge you to sign up ASAP. 

During a visit to Hawaii during COVID-19, California residents Huy and Heather decided to use Biki as a socially-distant and fun way to explore the city. 

Is Biki/biking a new hobby for you?

This was our first time on the Biki bicycles! We saw posts online and were beyond stoked to finally get the opportunity to check them out while we were on Oahu.

Where and why do you ride?

After strolling through Ala Moana Center, we decided to head to Aloha Tower as we had never ventured over in that direction. So, we looked up the map on the Biki website and located a Biki station right across the street from the mall on the Foodland side. Within just a few minutes, we pulled out our bicycles and off we went. We rode back through Ala Moana Beach Park and finished our adventure at L&L's for a delicious plate lunch.

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What do you like about Biki?

Biki is such a great addition to the island of Oahu. Yes, it's easy to call for a ride-share service or even wait for The Bus, but having the ability to ride at your own pace and soak in the sights, sounds, and ocean breeze is just priceless. We felt super safe riding around with our masks on and not having to worry about the safety precautions in a ride share service. It's easy to find the different stations and the kiosk machine is simple to use, so we definitely plan to using Biki again. 
 
We appreciated seeing the Biki Crew checking on the bikes and stations around Honolulu, which truly shows the care being put into the service. We like how Biki bikes are secured at the stations, unlike in other cities where we see scooters left strewn about the streets/sidewalks, causing a sore eye and obstructing access to businesses. 

Best Biki Tip for other riders:

Planning your route ahead of time is definitely a good idea so you don't accrue extra charges, stay in the bike lane as much as you can, adhere to the traffic signals, look both ways, but most importantly have fun!

planning to visit oahu?

Have a Biki story you want to share? We'd love to hear it! Email kelsey@bikesharehawaii.org.

By Sultan White, Elemental Excelerator Mobility Intern

Disclaimer: Please check Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) regularly for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19.

are we allowed to ride and is it safe?

While we must all do our part to slow the spread of coronavirus by social distancing and staying at home as much as possible, research shows that it may come at the cost of our mental health and well-being. I know I’m not the only one who’s felt a little stir crazy staying home all day. Thankfully, biking (my favorite outdoor activity) is considered a low-risk activity and it is not currently a restricted activity in the State of Hawaiʻi! Biki riders can rest assured that we are taking extra precautions to ensure our kiosks, bikes, and stations are regularly and thoroughly disinfected for your safety. 

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What equipment should I wear?

Hawaii's mask mandate, requires everyone on O‘ahu to wear face coverings over their noses and mouths at indoor public spaces as well as outdoor areas. However, there are a few circumstances exempt from the Order, such as when individuals are engaging in physical activity. 

 

While you are NOT required to wear a mask on a Biki bike, it's good to have one in your back pocket in case you need to stop somewhere. It's not recommended to breathe through a damp or sweaty mask, but if you choose to wear a face covering while riding, consider this full-face visor attached to a bicycle helmet! If you are a first responder and use your bike to help during the pandemic, they will even donate one to you.

 

Recent research has found it’s likely that 90 percent or more of the virus when found on a surface will be inactivated after being exposed to midday sunlight for between 11 and 34 minutes.  However, you should continue to do everything you can to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. Bring some hand sanitizer or wipes with you to use before and after your ride, or wash your hands with soap as soon as possible. And, remember not to touch your face! The virus can enter the body through the nose, mouth or eyes. I know we all get that urge to wipe the sweat away, but for now you’ll have to let it drip!

 

Using bikeshare is no riskier than interacting with other shared surfaces such as doorknobs, handrails and benches, so the same prevention tips apply. 

Boost your immune system!

As long as you are not already sick or showing symptoms, exercising and cycling could actually boost your immune system. Cycling not only keeps you physically strong, but also positively affects your mood and emotions. The mind-body connection is so powerful that being happy can lead to a healthier and longer life

 

Absolutely DO NOT exercise if you are already sick, have symptoms such as a fever and cough, or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. “Sweating it out” is a myth and can prolong your illness AND you can put others at risk of catching your illness. Other than exercise, plenty of sleep and a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables are highly recommended.

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Is it safe to ride in groups?

Biking remains one of the best activities to stay socially distant while still enjoying the company of your family and friends! This is one of the reasons the popular Kalakaua Open Street Sundays events have been extended through the end of July. The safest option is to exercise outside alone, rather than in gyms with big groups of people. It's a good idea to maintain 6ft of physical distance when riding and while at Biki Stops. 

Current Bicycle Transportation Legislation in DC

Guest Blogger: Michelle K.

On July 30, 2019,  the US Senate passed a bipartisan bill, S2302, called America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act. The name makes me think of freeway cloverleaves and our HART rail system, but actually there are several bicycle-centric programs included in the funding that will update current bike infrastructure, as well as earmark money for some pilot programs that address our future transportation needs. I read that over the last 25 years, federal surface transportation legislation has committed around $15 billion, that’s with a “B”, in bike lanes, bike paths, trails, and other projects that make bike commuting and recreating safer and easier throughout the United States.

1. Transportation Alternatives Program

The popular TAP, Transportation Alternatives Program, would get $1.2 billion. This one is popular because it is a major source of federal funds for our local government agencies to tap into via grants that address concerns that are specific to Oahu bike riders and make our current funding efforts a reality.

 

TAP helped fund 30% of the expansion of the Biki bikeshare system in 2018. A nice overview of funded Oahu TAP projects can be found here.

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2. Recreation Trails Program

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The RTP, Recreation Trails Program, provides funds to develop and maintain our off-road bike trails and trailheads. The funding for this program already comes from fuel taxes, not for your car, but the “gas” you buy for your boat, jet ski, ATV, and other recreational vehicles. What’s included in this current bill is a study that looks at how those fuel taxes are collected and distributed. Results of this study could end up increasing how much money our state allocates to make these improvements in off-road infrastructure.

3. Safety Incentive Program

A third program would fund grants to local municipalities for infrastructure that is designed to make improvements to pedestrian and bicyclist safety. Things like street lighting, signage, and safety barriers in between bikeways and vehicle lanes come to mind. This one is aptly named the Safety Incentive Program and there is currently $500 million proposed in the Senate’s budget for it.

This version of the bill also includes funding for a 'Center of Excellence' that would, among other things, evaluate how docked and dockless bikeshare programs, like Biki, influence real estate values and urban design plans.  Personally, when I was working with a realtor to purchase my Honolulu condo recently, proximity to a Biki station was high on my needs list. I’m interested in knowing how this translates into property values, if at all.

Look for the Lei of Parks sign along your ride.

show your support:

This bill (Safety Incentive Program) is now being discussed in the US House and will go through several committees before it reaches the President’s desk for final approval, so now is a great time to email our congresspersons and ask for their support. The following folks represent you as Oahu residents and sit on the committees that will review this bill and figure out where the funding will come from:

 

Senate Banking Committee: Senator Brian Schatz (https://www.schatz.senate.gov/contact)

House of Representatives Transportation Committee: Henry J.C. Aquino (repaquino@Capitol.hawaii.gov)

References:

about our guest blogger:

Michelle moved to Oahu a little over a year ago and quickly became a Biki user as she is determined to maintain her car-free lifestyle for as long as possible. This is her first blog post for Biki.

Have a story or bike-related news to share with the Biki community? Email kelsey@bikesharehawaii.org to get in touch. 

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