Maui Downhill Bike Tours Put on Hold

MAUI (KHNL) - Haleakala Rangers are putting the brakes on downhill bike tours through Haleakala National Park.

But could this mean the end of the road to this popular Maui past time?

Haleakala's bike tours have become a common sight on the twisty and turning road.

But so are bicycle accidents. "We're responding between 70-80 EMS calls a year, that averages out to 4-8 a month and that's only within the boundaries of the park. There's 26 miles of road and we have the last 10, there are many more accidents that happen outside the park." says Haleakala Park Spokesman, Dominic Cardea.

But it is the another death during a downhill bike ride, the third in a year, that has prompted the park to shut down all commerical bicycling activity. "This is an emergency stand down, so all activities of commerical downhill bikes inside the park will cease as of Oct 10th." says Cardea.

Bike companies will also have their commerical use permits terminated, while the park conducts a safety review on both the local and national level.

Around 90,000 bicyclists ride down the mountain each year, so some say this shutdown will really take the air out of the seven companies that currently hold permits.

Especially since the park rangers will not allow bike companies to drive customers to the summit before a ride. "they're not even letting us drive the people up there to look at the crater. Then drive out of the park to start the bike tour." says Ralph Johnson with Bike It Maui.

And after the 60-day review period, the Haleakala National Park rangers cannot say, if there will be simple changes to their safety policy or if bike tours thru the park will come to an end.