Hawaii is responding to the recent bike-sharing frenzy by introducing its own pilot B-Cycle program in the city of Kailua in December. The initiative is intended to offer a healthy choice of transportation, lessen the volume of traffic on the roads and improve the current car-cyclist relationship.
“B-Cycle is more for the residents of Kailua than for the tourists,” said Nguyen Le of Momentum MultiSport. “It is to provide a way for the residents to get around for short trips by bike instead of by car. The reason Kailua was chosen was because it is a geographically small area with natural divisions by the ocean and the high hills. It has a population density so a cycling program can service the community adequately which is what made it a good candidate for a pilot program.”
The B-Cycle launch is a privately funded project and it is starting small with two B-stations equipped with six bicycles each. Hawaii Department of Health, Healthy Hawaii Initiative together with Momentum MultiSport hope that the pilot program will be successful enough to attract government funding for expansion in the future.
“The prime motivation behind the bike sharing initiative is to introduce biking to more people and get drivers more accustom to drivers on the road,” Le said. “If the bikes are readily available for a free 30-minute ride then people will get on a bike and then be more safe and courteous when they get behind the wheel of a car and appreciate bikes.”
“One of the key aspects here is that if enough people ride bikes it generates more of a political will for biking infrastructure and event planners and administration can move forward and finally put in more bike lanes in Hawaii with protections,” he added.
Bike sharing infrastructure has gained popularity on an international scale in Montreal, Rio de Janeiro, Paris, Barcelona, Helsinki, Stockholm and London. B-Cycle specific programs have already launched in Denver, Chicago and Des Moines. According to Le, Hawaii’s program will differ because of its ability stay open year round whereas some of the other programs close during the cold winter months.