As e-bikes, scooters grow in popularity, lawmakers push measures to improve safety

Electric bikes and scooters can go so fast, crashes can be devastating, but their popularity is soaring and lawmakers are trying to keep up.
Published: Mar. 29, 2022 at 10:35 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 29, 2022 at 10:38 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As the popularity of electric bikes and scooters soar, lawmakers are trying to keep up with the demand.

Reese Kato, assistant manager of Bike Factory Honolulu, said customers are coming in daily inquiring about electric bikes.

“The electric power assists, it makes it a lot easier and a lot more approachable to ride a bike,” said Kato. “So, we always recommend getting helmets, lights and protective gear.”

Kato said electric bikes can reach speeds up to 28 miles per hour.

They also make very little noise.

Both e-bikes and electric scooters are supposed to stop at red lights and aren’t allowed on the sidewalks, but Waikiki residents say riders often don’t follow the rules.

“It’s out of control,” said Keoni Kaapuni of Waikiki. “Sometimes you can hear it and sometimes you can’t.”

“It’s just dangerous and I don’t understand why we can’t seem to put up with all these dangerous situations.”

“No law is going to stop people from using bikes and scooters because it’s just so much cheaper,” State Sen. Chris Lee who chairs the Transportation Committee.

Lee said lawmakers are pushing several measures to separate these modes of transportation from cars and pedestrians.

“We have hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for infrastructure upgrades,” Lee said. “So, we want to push the city, we want to push the state to invest those, to build these safer ways for people to get around without having to ride next to cars, without pedestrians having to dodge focus on scooters.”

There are also complaints about scooters being left in residential neighborhoods where anyone with a credit card can hop on.

City officials heard the same complaints when Lime scooters started popping up around town in 2018.

The Caldwell Administration quickly shut the service down saying it didn’t have the proper permits.

Hawaii News Now reached out to the city’s transportation services department about the new scooters and e-bike concerns and have yet to hear back.

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