To address unsafe bikers, some suggest going after bike shops

Published: Nov. 30, 2015 at 10:45 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 1, 2015 at 11:59 PM HST
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KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A booming bicycle rental market in Kailua town has businesses riding high, but some residents complaining that it's out of control.

And now the Kailua Neighborhood Board wants the City Council to empower police to ticket bike rental companies when bike riders break the rules.

Supporters say bike renters who break the laws could still be ticketed.

The motion's intent is to assess a separate fine on companies to encourage them to better train bicycle renters on the rules of the road and to penalize the rental companies that are profiting off their failure to train their customers.

"It's not really out of the box," said neighborhood board Chairman Chuck Prentiss said.  "It's not very much different from red light cameras that give the citation to the owner of the car."

A half dozen companies rent bicycles by the hour or the day. Most of their customers are tourists.

"It's been steadily increasing with the tourism boom here in Kailua," said The Bike Shop manager Devin Roth.

Roth says it's unfair to single out bike businesses.

"We wouldn't be asking Hertz rental car or Enterprise to pay for a ticket any time someone got pulled over on the H-1," he said.

Kailua resident Will Henghold agrees. He believes drivers are the bigger problem, and ticketing companies places blame in the wrong place.

"That takes individual responsibility out of the hands of the individual.  I'm not for that at all," he said.

But other residents say something needs to be done to address unsafe riders. They say bike renters ride against the traffic, and weave in and out of traffic.

"Most of the bike riders don't know they're supposed to be on the road so they take the sidewalk," resident Chris Almazo said.

"I had one near miss a week ago," Marilyn Vitale added. "I was looking one way and the bicycle went 'whoosh' -- right in front of me."

The Neighborhood Board has drafted a resolution that argues bike rental businesses have failed to properly instruct their customers.

"The basic problem is it just keeps happening and a solution is really needed for that," Prentiss said.

But companies said they do educate customers before they hit the street. Kailua Ocean Adventures explains bicycle rules in Japanese. The Bike Shop hands out safety pamphlets with every rental.

"Knowing all the rules and regulations of the road can only go so far," Roth said.

City Council member Ikaika Anderson said the board's proposal doesn't make sense and he won't support it.

The Neighborhood Board discusses its ticket resolution at Thursday night's meeting at the Kailua Recreation Center.

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