There's something beautiful in your storage room

May 24th, 2008

90km Bikeway Network in Mexico CityWhen it came up, my Neighborhood Board voted down a resolution supporting cycling in Honolulu.  I couldn’t believe it.  Then, after an embarrassing discussion the resolution squeaked through by one vote. Kind of sad, don't you think.

What is it about bicycles that bothers people so much?  Years ago I recall a jury trial where the voir dire revealed early on that the panel did not think there was a place for cyclists on either the streets or sidewalks of Honolulu.  The injured cyclist settled at first opportunity.

In fairness, I would have to add that Frank Fasi built some marginal bike lanes on University Avenue and on Kalanianaole, but then lost interest and no mayor has done anything much since.  Tell me it isn’t so. 

In Fasi’s day, you could commute on Kapiolani or Beretania or even Ala Moana.  You could ride to Waimanalo or even to Waianae in reasonable safety.  Try that now.  They’d say you were crazy. And they’d be right. 

What is it that makes so many people reject cyclists and the use of bicycles as serious transportation.  They don’t use bicycles, they don’t give way for cyclists and in fact many of them want bicycles to go away, to disappear.  Some even shout epithets and run cyclists off the road. 

As far as I can see, the city doesn’t plan for cyclists in any way or do the slightest thing to encourage them or make room for them.  Au contraire, the city wants them off the road too.  Witness the recent contentions between HPD and groups of cyclists trying to popularize cycling. 

Beyond bad temper, isn’t this a huge squander of a perfect opportunity?  Aren’t we supposed to be a tropical outdoor sports paradise?  I guess not.  It’s not only my Neighborhood Board that’s conflicted about this issue.

If we had bikeways and bike lanes on the highways, thousands of people would ride bike.  They would have fun, they would be healthier, and they would enjoy life more.  They wouldn’t be on the freeway using fossil fuels.  But they’d get where they’re going, and given the traffic sometimes faster.

Cycling is certainly high tech, thrilling us with its leverage and near perfect efficiency, offering us the personal zen of bicycle maintenance.  What a fabulous statement to innovation – a machine that can take you anywhere, but requires no fuel or engine other than the human body. 

A couple of years ago the people voted for a charter amendment to make Honolulu more bike friendly.  A terrific idea, and well supported.  But not one thing has been done since then.  The amendment and the people were ignored and are being ignored on this issue.  Tell me I’m wrong.

Bikes - what could be a more obvious solution to so many issues, fossil fuel, traffic, public health and environment?  And what could be so easy.  We already have these magic carpets waiting in our garages and storage rooms.  All we need to do is pump them up and ride them.  Voila.

We could of course wait around in hopes the government will implement the charter amendment, but frankly that would be a miracle for which none of us can wait.  Instead, I’ll just suggest that everyone get out there and ride.  Ride, Sally, ride.  If we all do that, things will be better. 

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