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Bridging The Gap: Bringing Bike Education To Rural Communities

Bridging the Gap: Bringing Bike Education to Rural Communities

PATH Volunteers and Instructors at Kohala Elementary providing Bike Ed to fourth-grade students.

Hawai‘i Island HEAL has recently collaborated with People for Active Transportation Hawai‘i (PATH) through their Bike Ed program to promote active transportation among Hawai‘i Island residents. PATH, a community-based, grassroots 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was established in 1986 to safely connect people and places on Hawai‘i Island with pathways and bikeways. PATH has been instrumental in bringing bike education to rural communities across the island by empowering residents of all ages to embrace cycling as a means of transportation, recreation, and wellness.

PATH was founded in 1986 in response to a growing need for places to walk, bike, and hike safely and legally in Hawai‘i County. PATH has consistently worked towards enhancing the quality of life for Hawai‘i Island residents by advocating for safer roads, creating accessible trails, and fostering a culture of physical activity.

One of the organization’s flagship initiatives is its bike education (Bike Ed) program, which focuses on teaching essential cycling skills, safety practices, and the benefits of biking to individuals. Recognizing rural areas’ unique challenges, such as limited infrastructure and resources, PATH has tailored its program to address these specific needs, ensuring that even the most isolated communities can benefit from comprehensive bike education.

Recently, PATH teamed up with Hawai‘i Island HEAL Coordinators to bring bike education to Kohala Elementary School, specifically for fourth-grade students. Led by West Hawai‘i Island HEAL Coalition Coordinator Kealoha Madriaga, PATH successfully educated 58 students during the first week of May. This collaboration underscores PATH’s commitment to promoting healthy habits and instilling cycling safety awareness early in life, thus empowering young learners with skills they can carry into adulthood.

Through hands-on workshops, interactive lessons, and community events, PATH’s dedicated team of instructors and volunteers provided valuable training on bike maintenance, road safety, and environmental stewardship. An integral part of PATH’s commitment to safety is ensuring that young cyclists are adequately equipped to ride. To this end, PATH provides free helmets to children participating in the Bike Ed program. This initiative promotes safe cycling habits from an early age and helps remove financial barriers that might prevent some families from obtaining essential safety gear.

The impact of PATH’s Bike Ed program is evident in participants’ positive feedback and success stories. Many individuals who once viewed biking as an unattainable or unsafe activity now embrace it as a regular part of their lives, enjoying its physical, mental, and environmental benefits. For children, the program fosters a sense of independence and confidence, while adults appreciate the practical advantages of having an alternative mode of transportation.

Looking ahead, PATH’s dedication to bridging gaps and bringing bike education to rural communities on Hawai‘i Island exemplifies the organization’s broader mission of safely connecting people and places on Hawai‘i Island with pathways and bikeways. By empowering individuals with the skills and knowledge to embrace cycling and providing free helmets to children, PATH enhances their quality of life and fosters a more connected, resilient community. As PATH continues to grow and evolve, its impact on Hawai‘i Island will undoubtedly leave a lasting legacy of positive change.

Kealoha Madriaga

Kealoha Madriaga

West Hawai‘i Tobacco and HEAL Coalition Coordinator
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