The Lost Bikes of Oahu

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Despite the proximity of Oahu to the Big Island–home of Kona and the Ironman–and the constantly-beautiful weather here, biking is not big in Honolulu or any of the more rural parts of the island.

Up on the north shore the Surfboard is king, and the occasional bike stays primarily to the paths. The roads here have very narrow shoulders and no real accommodations for road riders.

Even rental bikes lay fallow here. This sad-looking collection chained up to a fence are yearning to go out for a ride but alas stay roped down, without a Japanese or American tourist even glancing at them.

This island is a perfect example of infrastructure done wrong for pedestrian and cycling access. Despite the big-ass mountain in the middle of the island, the weather in Honolulu is vastly better than that of Portland or Seattle and the number of cyclists on the roads is down near zero.

Meanwhile, driving anywhere on H1 around 4 PM on a work day is darned near impossible thanks to all the gridlock.


When we were there in 2008, saw [this fixie](

I lived in Honolulu for 6 years, from 98 to 04, and found it very difficult, but not impossible to do some biking. But as you point out, bike lanes are mostly nonexistent, as are shoulders, especially outside of Honolulu. In town though, there was one path along the canal bordering Waikiki that was a good ride.

I also worked out a route from our house near Diamond Head to campus (of the University of Hawaii) that was OK, though I never got used to biking in 80 degree heat and humidity (I’m a native San Franciscan).

When we later lived in Aina Haina (a valley farther from campus) I found a different route, that included sidewalks, that was pretty good for the ride to my job up in the Manoa valley, above the campus. Sometimes though, the “bike path,” was where you got buzzed, for example by a moped trying to stay away from the cars on the Kalanianaole Highway (try saying it fast).

And I was very lucky cuz there was a shower I could use in the building where my job was located.

I did some volunteer work with the Sierra Club and their local chapter president used to ride everywhere. He was in incredible shape. But he was 26 and I was pushing 50 at the time.

As for renting: What was funny was occasionally seeing tourists in these tiny electric four-wheelers they used to rent. They were having a blast, but driving the locals to distraction because the electrics weren’t much faster than the local mopeds. Top speed, about 35 mph.

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