Ten aquamarine bikes glinted under a maile lei draped from handlebar to handlebar on the Capitol lawn.
Across the street in front of the Hawaii State Art Museum, curious people stopped to examine a new bicycle-sharing station.
Honolulu’s new bicycle-sharing program, Biki, was launched Wednesday afternoon. There are now 100 Biki stations with 1,000 bikes that can be found from downtown to Diamond Head. Riders can rent bikes for single rides at a cost of $3.50 for 30 minutes, or sign up for tiered monthly passes.
Biki bicycles are blessed with rainwater and ti leaf on the Capitol lawn as dignataries watch.
“We hope to get as broad of a range of people as possible, mainly people who do not bike now,” said Bikeshare Hawaii CEO Lori McCarney. “Right now, we are only at the starting line.”
In 2012, bike-sharing was identified in a city study as a way to alleviate traffic while benefiting residents’ health. The city created the Bikeshare Working Group to suss out the details of how a bike-sharing program could work in Honolulu, and in 2014, the group released an early plan.
On Wednesday, McCarney emphasized the community efforts it took to get the project off the ground. Aside from nonprofit, state and private company efforts, collaboration among communities was essential to plan station locations, she said.
Bikeshare Hawaii wanted to design a program that both residents and tourists will use, and community feedback helped dictate where each station was established, McCarney said. A large cluster of stations is downtown.
To teach community members about Biki and encourage cycling, safe bicycling practices and knowledge of cycling laws, the Hawaii Bicycling League is hosting free educational classes called Biki Bicycling Basics. The two-hour classes are being held throughout the week and include demonstrations on how to shift gears and adjust seats, and include a short ride to illustrate biking etiquette.
“When you’re on a bicycle, you’re far more connected to the community you’re living and riding in than if you’re inside your box driving around,” said Travis Counsell, events director for the Hawaii Bicycling League. He hopes having more residents educated on bicycling will make for more comfortable riding, which will in turn encourage the city to further develop its bicycling infrastructure.
“It’s a chicken or the egg scenario,” he said. “Hopefully with the bike-share program, we will see how one leads to the other.”