More than a decade ago, Hawaii officials recognized that
bicycle accidents were occurring too often and embarked on a plan to improve safety for
cyclists. So National Bike Month in May has special resonance on the islands.
The state reported two bicyclist fatalities in 2012 and two in 2011, an
improvement from a decade earlier when the
Department of Health said bicyclist deaths were averaging about six per year.
The Hawaii Department of Transportation's
master plan created a guide for improving the bicycle environment. The goal was to
establish bicycling as a safe and convenient method of transportation
for residents and visitors through:
Engineering — Planning and designing new and better transportation facilities to allow
bicyclists of all abilities to ride safely.
Education — Expanding safety awareness to reduce crashes and increase ridership.
Enforcement — Stepping up prevention of illegal and reckless driving and bicycling.
Encouragement — Promoting personal and community benefits of bicycling through brochures
and maps to increase bicycle trips.
Bike Month in Honolulu
In Honolulu, Mayor Kirk Caldwell has proclaimed May as Bike Month and has
proposed $1.4 million in biking infrastructure improvements including
KITV reports that the new bike infrastructure would help accommodate 1,700
bikes to be available at bikeshare stations in urban Honolulu by late 2015.
League of American Bicyclists ranks the state's "bikeability" as 40th among the 50 states for 2014.
The League assessed states' performance in five categories: legislation
and enforcement, policies and programs, infrastructure and funding, education
and encouragement, and evaluation and planning. It gave Hawaii its lowest
scores in the categories of policies and programs and infrastructure and funding.
Warm weather makes the Hawaiian Islands the perfect place for bicyclists
to enjoy the natural beauty. Motorists should be on the lookout for riders
- and pedestrians - many of whom are tourists trying to find the next
Motorists should be aware that:
- Motorists are at fault in most crashes with bicycles.
- Bicycles are legal vehicles, and bicyclists must follow the same traffic
rules as motorists.
- Bicyclists have different skill levels.
- Some bicyclists may be traveling 25 to 30 mph. Take note of their speed
when changing lanes or preparing to make a right turn.
- Beware of bicyclists dodging hazards in their path. They could swerve to
miss a pothole, so be prepared to avoid them.
The state urges bicyclists to follow these safety tips:
- Always wear a helmet when you ride, even for short trips.
- Follow all traffic laws and remember your bicycle is a vehicle.
- Ride with the direction of traffic, never against it.
- Go in a straight line and avoid swerving.
- Make sure motorists can see you by wearing light-colored clothes and a
Bike Plan Hawaii appears to be making the islands' roadways safer for
bicyclists and pedestrians. But any fatalities are too many. Motorists
who are at fault in bicycle accidents should be held accountable for the
injuries they cause. Bicyclists have legal rights to claim compensation
when they are injured through the fault of other drivers.