Mass Transit Offers Free Bikeshare to Hele-On Riders
Users of the Hele-On public transit system now have a new, free way to get around in urban areas of the Big Island.
Hawai‘i County Mass Transit recently announced Hele-On passengers can now access HIBIKE Bikeshare at no additional cost. All riders need to do is ask a bus operator for a code to use at the HIBIKE kiosks.
“Mayor Mitch Roth brought me to Hawai’i County to implement the actions detailed in the Transit and Multimodal Transportation Master Plan adopted in 2018,” said interim Mass Transit Administrator John Andoh. “Additionally, I came onboard to restructure Hele-On to be a true economic driver for this island, and bring in new modes to help move people around.”
The bikeshare service is one of those new modes. It’s also a viable transportation option that provides economic, health and convenience benefits. The free HIBIKE Bikeshare offering is the result of changes to the county’s mass transit system under Andoh’s leadership.
In 2016, People for Active Transportation Hawai‘i, or PATH, partnered with the county Research and Development Department to pilot a bikeshare system in Kailua-Kona to test how bikeshare could work on the Big Island, which was eventually expanded to the Hilo area. As part of this expansion, Mass Transit came onboard to start subsidizing the bikeshare operation, incorporating it into the family of services provided by the agency.
A service of PATH and Hele-On, HIBIKE Bikeshare is ideal for anyone who wants to leave their car parked during a short trip or enhance their transportation options. In other cities with bikeshare systems, it’s been shown that local businesses benefit, with an increase in visibility on the street-level, because people are out of their cars and more aware of the businesses around them.
Bikeshare stations also are beneficial in areas where a bus route might not make sense because the destination might be close enough to mainline transit. And establishing bikeshare stations near bus routes to get to and from an off-route location eliminates the need to deviate a mainline transit route.
Other new modes of transportation being implemented include van pools, partnerships with Lyft and Uber and a new route network that will make it easy for everyone to get around the island. Andoh is focusing on addressing the need for internal circulation within urbanized areas of rural environments, such as Hilo, Kailua-Kona, Waimea and Pāhoa.
“Multimodal opportunities can start simple, like with a bikeshare system in rural areas for ‘first mile, last mile’ connections from a transit bus to someone’s destination,” Andoh said, pointing out that bikesharing can also be combined with flexible demand responsive services such as a taxi. “We have multiple stations that we are funding in partnership with PATH to demonstrate intermodal connection.”
PATH is a community-based nonprofit organization committed to elevating the efforts of community groups and Hawai‘i County to create more multimodal trails for active transportation, with an emphasis on developing more protected places for people to use mobility devices, walk or bike on the Big Island.