Star Advertiser: Biki touts success and plans expansion in Honolulu

(Via Star Advertiser)

By Dan Nakaso

BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM

A Biki rack in Waikiki on Kalakaua Avenue near Paoakalani Avenue in October.

After its first year of operation, Honolulu’s Biki bikeshare program exceeded its ridership goals and is hoping to expand into Iwililei, the University of Hawaii at Manoa and as far east as Kapiolani Community College by the end of the year.

When Biki launched on June 28, 2017, the goal was to see at least 1.7 daily trips for each of Biki’s 1,000 bikes, which would match the average of similar bike programs around the country.

Instead, with 838,662 total trips in its first year, Biki averaged 2.3 trips per bike per day.

And it hit a record of 3.6 trips per bike May 1 during Japan’s “Golden Week,” which coincided with a major convention at the Hawai‘i Convention Center.

“We were more pleased than surprised and gratified that our homework paid off,” said Lori McCarney, CEO of Bikeshare Hawaii, the nonprofit organization that manages Biki, on Monday.

Biki has 100 docking stations from River and Beretania streets near Chinatown to Monsarrat and Kanaina avenues near Diamond Head.

In response to more than 500 requests for more stations, plans are underway to add 30 to 50 new ones — plus 300 more bikes, which would expand Biki’s presence from Dole Cannery to KCC.

The expansion is possible through donations and $1.8 million in federal transportation funds, McCarney said.

In a statement Monday, Mayor Kirk Caldwell saluted the first year of Biki.

“In order for our city to thrive, we need to become a multimodal society and Biki is leading that charge by proving that ‘pedal power’ is not only an environmentally friendly and healthy option, but also convenient and cost-effective,” Caldwell said in a statement.

At Hawaii Pacific Health, Biki members get prorated discounts depending on what plans they’re on as part of the organization’s mission to promote healthy lifestyles.

Among Hawaii Pacific Health’s 7,000 employees, “at least a couple hundred” take advantage of the Biki discounts, said Gail Lerch, the organization’s executive vice president.

“So far I’ve only heard positive things,” Lerch said. “There are some employees that are using it to commute to and from work, like if they live in Waikiki they’ll commute to Harbor Court. Some employees have started using Biki between our Harbor Court office and Straub. Or if you have to go to the Capitol for a meeting, it’s easier to take the Biki rather than to find parking. Some use it more for recreation on the weekends or after work. We have a lot of foodies who go to Chinatown restaurants, and it’s impossible to find parking on the weekends. One of the guys who works for me is in his 50s and takes Biki to go to Straub or other places in the downtown area. So no it’s not just the millennial workforce. It’s for everybody.”

Out of Biki’s current 100 stops, the 20 most used are in Waikiki, the Ala Moana/Kakaako area and Moiliili/McCully.

The most popular Biki stop is near the Honolulu Zoo at Kalakaua and Paoakalani avenues.

But since January, Biki’s eighth most popular stop is on Auahi Street in Kakaako near the “Salt block” of shops and restaurants, McCarney said.

“Biki can support small businesses,” she said. “People who work downtown can easily go to lunch at the Salt block in five minutes.”

A survey, released Monday, of members who signed up for different payment plans — including a one-time single ride — found that 64 percent of Biki riders were Oahu residents.

And 50 percent of members said they use Biki to commute to work.

Some 70 percent of survey respondents did not consider themselves cyclists.

At the same time, 58 percent reported saving money since joining Biki; 55 percent discovered or visited new businesses; 52 percent exercised more; 50 percent said they drive or carpool less; and 27 percent lost weight.

McCarney also is interested in improving the numbers revealed by the survey that found 21 percent of Biki riders are age 50 or older.

McCarney, who is 64, is trying to get people over 50 more involved in Biki through a grant from AARP that likely will result in organized group rides.

“Maybe as they further age they’ll have more healthy transportation in their lifestyle, more affordability,” McCarney said. “There’s opportunity there. Working with AARP we’re going to try some social rides with a purpose — ‘Let’s go get coffee and use Biki to get there.’”

 

Source:  Star Advertiser

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