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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 6, 2010

Kailua bike-sharing proposed

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Staff Writer


A proposal for a bike-sharing program in Kailua will be presented at tonight's Kailua Neighborhood Board meeting, 7 p.m. at Kailua District Park.

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A local bicycle shop is proposing to launch a bike-sharing pilot project in Kailua, giving people a chance to get out of their vehicles and exercise more.

Momentum MultiSport owner Nguyen Le will explain the project at the Kailua Neighborhood Board meeting tonight.

The Hawaii B-cycle project, funded by tobacco settlement money, stalled in the state's procurement process but should be moving "full steam ahead," Le said.

"Our vision of cycling in Hawai'i is if we build it, they will come," he said. "If we put the bikes out there for people to experiment with and just try out for fun and for free, that they will rediscover the joys of cycling."

The plan is to start small with about 25 bikes and two stations in Kailua town. People would rent the bikes to cross town and leave them at the other station or return them to the original location. The first half hour would be free, but that could be extended to one hour depending on how people use the system, Le said.

People would swipe their credit card at the rental kiosk to get a bike. If they go beyond the free period, they would be charged $5 for 90 minutes of use, for example. People could also subscribe to the service at rates such as $10 a week or $25 a month.

"The goal of the program is not to have people on the bikes for half a day or a full day," he said. "It's just a short half hour- or hour-long ride and then let someone else use the bike."

Several Kailua groups have heard the proposal, including the board's transportation committee and the Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle.

Lyn Turner, who chairs the I Love Kailua Town Party, said members mostly thought it was a good idea.

"I don't know how many people are going to rent bikes to go out for half an hour but I won't know unless it's been tried," Turner said.

The state considered a similar project about 10 years ago, but it had a modest plan to use older bikes and it had no real security system. It never got off the ground.

The bikes in this system are durable and theft resistant , Le said. They have computers that can calculate miles and the amount of calories burned, a tracking system, automatic locks, integrated parts that can't be removed, flat-resistant tires and an aluminum body.

The kiosks are solar-powered, 3G Wi-Fi-connected, self-operating systems, he said, adding that the bikes will be maintained and redistributed nightly.

Similar systems are operating all over Europe and in several U.S cities, including Washington, D.C., and Denver.

Le has obtained a grant from the state Department of Health's Healthy Hawai'i Initiative and is partnering with a Mainland company, B-cycle, for this pilot project.

The plan is to expand to other communities such as Waikīkī and the University of Hawai'i and integrate with other transportation systems such as TheBus and the city's new rail project, he said.

The contract must still be finalized with the state. Le said it had been hung up at the attorney general's office for about a year but recently cleared that hurdle.

The original proposal had limited the contract to $100,000 but the contract price will not be released until it's signed, said Heidi Hansen-Smith, community outreach coordinator for the Healthy Hawai'i Initiative. At this time there are no pending issues with the contract but Hansen-Smith said she could not be sure when the pilot project would start.

In the meantime, presentations are being given and the state is working with businesses willing to host four more B-cycle stations in Kailua.

"Kailua is the perfect community because it's geographically contained, it's smallish and it's flat," she said.

Healthy Hawai'i wanted to fund the pilot project as part of its mission to get people to incorporate physical activity in their daily routine, Hansen-Smith said. Hopping on a bike to go shopping or buy a sandwich or go to the beach seemed like a good way to get people out of their cars, she said.

Eventually this type of program could result in more bike riders, and that could lead to more bike lanes with people using their cars less, Hansen-Smith said.

"It all has to happen together," she said. "As you get more bikers out there, then the cars are more aware of them, then they can show that support for more bike lanes."

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