Kalihi has a reputation for violence and poverty, but the organizer of an upcoming bicycle tour wants people to see another side of community that stretches from valley to ocean northwest of downtown Honolulu.

The 7-mile Kalihi Ahupuaa Ride on June 24 from the Kalihi Valley down to Sand Island will include five “story stops” at culturally significant locations along the way, said organizer Jordan Ragasa.

“In the media, the light shed on Kalihi is very negative, lots of gangsters, lots of poverty,” Ragasa said. “The purpose of the ride is to provide people with an alternative perspective about Kalihi.”

KVIBE Community Outreach Coordinator Jordan Ragasa. Kalihi

Jordan Ragasa hopes the bike tour he’s organizing will change the way some people view Kalihi.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Ragasa, 25, grew up in Kalihi and is finishing his first year as Community Outreach Coordinator of the Kalihi Valley Instructional Bike Exchange. In a garage tucked away on Kamehameha IV Road, the KVIBE program teaches Kalihi youths to build bikes and leadership skills. Many of the youths will join the nearly 100 riders already registered for the event.

Highlighting ‘Hidden Gems’

One stop will be the Eki Cyclery, a mom and pop bike shop that opened in Kalihi 106 years ago.

The shop is located on Dillingham Boulevard, one block away from a planned rail station. The city’s rail line is scheduled to stop three times in Kalihi before reaching downtown , causing many in the working class community to brace for change.

Eki Cyclery’s co-owner, Jayne Kim, said rail will be tough on some businesses. “The difficult part will be construction,” Kim said. “If we can survive then I think that rail would be good for bicycling.”

“I really wanted to highlight all those hidden gems in Kalihi,” Ragasa said. “These are the elements that create our community. This is what makes Kalihi, Kalihi.”

Eki Cyclery.

Eki Cyclery opened in Kalihi in 1911, and is still family owned and operated.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

KVIBE incorporates ancestral knowledge in its programming, and the Kalihi Ahupuaa Ride organizers plan to do the same during the bike tour.

Ragasa met with researchers from the University of Hawaii Center For Oral History to learn about the area’s history.

The rich collection of stories he gathered range from an Okinawan pig farmer who once lived in Kalihi Valley to the history of Mokauea, a small island off Honolulu Harbor that was once a fishing village.

The Honolulu Police Department’s Community Policing Team of Kalihi is advertising the ride on its website, and Ragasa said officers will join the ride. So will members of The Others Bike Club, an urban bicycle group with an Oahu chapter.

Organizers hope the event will bring the community together and introduce outsiders to a new side of Kalihi.

“We’re not just an industrial area, we’re not just a commercial area, we’re a community,” said City Councilman Joey Manahan, whose district includes Kalihi and who plans to participate in the event.

Spots are limited, but late registration is still open for those interested. A bike with working gears and a helmet are required, Ragasa said.

While additional riders are still welcome, organizers say what they really need are volunteers to help with the logistics, including setting up and taking down tents, and helping with rider registration. People interested in volunteering can sign up here.

Making Kalihi Bikeable

Kalihi isn’t particularly bike-friendly. Potholes riddle the roads shared by commuters from West Oahu and container trucks exiting Honolulu Harbor.

“What you see in Kahala are wide streets. What you see in Kalihi is narrower, more congested streets,” said Chad Taniguchi, the executive director of the Hawaii Bicycling League.

It makes sense to make Kalihi more bikeable, Taniguchi said, because fewer people own cars in Kalihi compared to other parts of Oahu.

“The area is very working class,” Kim of Eki Cyclery said. “A good majority compared to other neighborhoods … ride bikes for utilitarian purposes, not just recreational.”

Manahan said the neighborhood also has one of the highest rate of pedestrian fatalities.

North King Street cracked road. Pothole. 8 june 2017

Uneven roads like this one near the intersection of North King Street and Kalihi Street can make bike riding difficult, and even dangerous.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Event organizers hope the Kalihi Ahupuaa Ride will shed light on the need for better biking infrastructure in Kalihi.

Making it easier and safer for people without cars to get around on foot, on bikes and on the bus is part of the city’s Department of Transportation Services’ mission.

“The Department of Transportation Services is determined to make bicycling as safe as possible,” wrote Wes Frysztacki, director of the Department of Transportation, in an email. He declined through a spokesman to actually talk about the issue.

The Kalihi Neighborhood Transit-Oriented Development Plan, approved by the Honolulu City Council in March, calls for more bike lanes.

Manahan said by the end of the year North King Street will have a “sharrow,” markings on the road to indicate a shared bike lane.

A pedestrian- and bike-safe neighborhood will require smoother streets, and more awareness on the part of drivers and bikers, Taniguchi said.

“I’m glad that KVIBE wants to show how bikeable Kalihi is,” he said. “Besides an engineering solution, it’s going to take education on the part of KVIBE and (the Hawaii Bicycling League) to show that.”

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