Peoples Advocacy for Trails Hawaii (PATH) is a community-based, grassroots, non-profit, public access advocacy organization serving Hawai‘i County. PATH’s mission is to promote traffic safety education and a safe environment on roadways and trails for recreation, fitness, and alternative modes of transportation. PATH has been safely connecting people and places on Hawai‘i Island with pathways and bikeways since 1986. Among their many programs and initiatives, they have worked on the Big Island Bike Ed Program, the Pedestrian Safety Awareness Program, Safe Routes to School Program and, and also introduced Bikeshare to Kona and Hilo.
Bikeshare system planning began in 2015 when Kawehi Inaba, the Director of the County of Hawai‘i Research and Development Department (R&D), approached PATH and asked if they would be willing to establish and manage a pilot bikeshare program for Hawai‘i County. With an enthusiastic ‘YES’, PATH partnered with Frecia Cevallos from R&D and learned as much as they could about the relatively new Bikeshare industry. With input from Heidi Hansen Smith, Primary Prevention Branch Manager of the Hawai’i State Department of Health-Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Division, PATH contacted Lori McCarney, the Executive Director of BIKI, to launch a 100 Bikeshare station system in Honolulu. Lori helped PATH navigate all of the Bikeshare possibilities that were available at the time.
After many months of study and conversations, PATH settled on PBSC Urban Solutions design, the same system as the Honolulu BIKI system. PATH determined that a similar system would greatly reduce the learning curve on their part, create an economy of scale, and eventually allow for greater familiarity of Bikeshare as residents and visitors traveled between the islands.
Former Mayor Billy Kenoi gave his blessing for the Bikeshare pilot program in January of 2016 and the county granted PATH $250,000 to install 3 Bikeshare stations in Kona. Part of the grant agreement was to explore the possibility of expanding the system to include Hilo at some point in the future.
Fast forward to 2018, PATH received Grant in Aid funding to expand the Bikeshare system to East Hawai`i with four stations to be placed in Hilo. PATH spent many hours in conversation with a variety of Hilo businesses, residents, and stakeholders ( Hawai‘i Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee, the Mayor’s Active Living Committee, Hilo Bayfront Trails, Hawai’i County Planning Department, and Hawai`i County Department of Public Works) to determine the best locations for Hilo’s Bikeshare Pilot program.
Four stations were erected at various locations in the downtown Hilo area, connecting visitors and residents to Banyan Drive, Hawai`i County offices, downtown Hilo restaurants and shops. The stations were deployed on August 9, 2019, and within a couple hours of being activated, they had already had 7 rides! PATH is currently talking with the Chancellor of Hawai‘i Community College about having stations at Hilo Community College and possibly at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo.
A Hawai’i County employee recently shared her joy in using Bikeshare to ride, instead of walk, to lunch with her husband, which gave them more time to eat and enjoy each other’s company. It is exciting to know that Hawai‘i County’s new mass transit calls for the expansion of Bikeshare as a first- and last-mile option for transit riders.