Safety Concerns on Popular Bike Tour on Maui - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Safety Concerns on Popular Bike Tour on Maui

Jimmy Muschietti Jimmy Muschietti
Phil Feliciano Phil Feliciano
John Thuro John Thuro

By Paul Drewes

HALEAKA NATIONAL PARK, Maui (KHNL) - It's described as thrilling and it's one of the islands most popular tourist activities. But two deaths in eight months on Haleakala Bike Tours continue raising concerns about the safety and wisdom of these tours.

The view from Haleaka is heavenly, but the road down the mountain is full of twists and turns.

It is one of the most popular activities on the island.

An estimated 100 thousand people take the ride every year. But as the number of bike tours increased, it's led to traffic clashes between tour companies and drivers stuck on the street.

"Van after van, bicycle after bicycle pass; one company and you get behind another one," said Jimmy Muschietti of Upcountry Citizen for Bike and Traffic Safety.

To eliminate the growing frustration for drivers, a number of guided tour companies got together and came up with some rules of the road.

"We were congested through this area, but now we've stopped that by holding our vans back." said Phil Feliciano of Cruiser Phil's.

But not everyone is riding with the pack.

"The problem is we had people working for companies that weren't following the company procedures, they'd stay in the middle of the road," said John Thuro of Maui Mountain Cruisers.

And there, bicyclists not only block traffic, they also have to deal with speeding cars and other hazards on this downhill decent.

"Right through here cars speed all the time. They don't obey the speed limit at all," said Thuro.

In addition to the hairpin turns and steep angle of this road, parts of this highway doesn't have a shoulder, forcing these riders into the road.

Hazards, many who get on these bikes may not be used to.

"Day by day, I keep seeing these near accidents," said Muschietti.

Companies that lead guided tours down the mountain stress this activity is save.

"It's absolutely safe. I can't say you can't get hurt," said Thuro.

But a look at video taken by bicyclists show some don't put the brakes on unsafe behavior. Doctors at Maui Memorial say, they see at least two to five injuried cyclists in their emergency room each week. With broken bones or facial injuries from their downhill ride.

And a number of bikers have died on this adventure from the summit of Haleakala, including those two in the past eight months. But even that is not enough to slow down interest in this unique island adventure on Maui.

At Haleakala National Park, they are working on a plan to determine whether the hundreds of bikers riding down the mountain each day is appropriate and safe for the national park.

Transportation and other services for Pride of Hawaii reports are provided by NCL America.

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