Bike sharing hits Oahu roads (and not everyone is happy about that)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After months of anticipation -- and some controversy -- the Biki bike share system officially launched Wednesday.

Some 1,000 bikes are now available for use at 100 stations from Diamond Head to Chinatown.

The bikes cost $3.50 to use for half an hour. There are also half-day and day rates.

And a lost or stolen bike will cost you $1,200 -- automatically charged to your credit card.

Cycling Hawaii advocate Natalie Iwasa said the launch of the program is a milestone for Oahu.

"I'm really excited to see this happening today," she said.

At Wednesday's Biki Bikeshare launch, people tried out the bikes at one of the stations near the Hawaii State Art Museum.

Users need a credit card and will get a code to use the bike.

State Rep. Della Au Belatti was at the launch, and rode a bike for a first time in 10 years.

"I was a little shaky at first, but I think these bikes are great. I think they are made for women. I would recommend wearing pants though," she said.

The stations can always be moved, depending on the needs of the community.

And Biki hopes to add more bike racks in the future.

"University of Hawaii is definitely some place that we'd like to be, Kapiolani Community College so we are talking with those folks," said Lori McCarney, Bikeshare Hawaii CEO.

The bikes have no tracking system, but a separate company will handle operations issues, like damage, theft and maintenance.

"We are also responsible for the customer service side. We handle all that on the back end," said Kelvin Tjia, Secure Bike Share CEO. "There is a toll free number that is available on the bikes and the carts."

The launch of the program hasn't come without some frustration. There's even been a protest.

"When it impacts drivers, people are going to get upset," said Mayor Kirk Caldwell. "But I think it's the beginning of this journey where we are not going be a car centric community any more. We are going to have bikes, bus and rail someday. It is that multi-modal component that's so important."

Added Iwasa, "I just hope that people give it a chance. We can't have more cars."

The state and city granted Biki Bikeshare Hawaii, a non-profit, about $2 million in seed money and it has five major donors recognized on the bikes.

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