Star Advertiser: Bikeshare Hawaii CEO pleased by growth, says Biki is evolving

By Nina Wu
November 1, 2017

In its first three months of operation, Bikeshare Hawaii reported that Biki, the first bikeshare program in Honolulu, logged more than 180,000 rides.

Lori McCarney, CEO of Bikeshare Hawaii, said she is pleased with the results of the first-quarter report.

“We want to serve residents and visitors. We want our bikes to be used,” said McCarney, “so I think the growth in users over the period is really what we’re pleased to see. It wasn’t just (that) people came out, tried it out and said, ‘OK, that was fun,’ and went away.”

Since it first launched June 28, Biki has logged 180,272 rides, with average rides per day increasing from 1,735 in July to 2,101 rides in September.

A total of 31,743 unique individuals checked out a Biki in its first three months, according to the report released in October. Of the total, 43 percent were members, meaning they signed up for a monthly pass rather than a single $3.50 ride. The Free Spirit Pass, which offers a bank of 300 minutes for $20, was the most popular option.

With $2 million in state and city startup funds, Bikeshare Hawaii was launched as a nonprofit in June following years of preparation stemming from a feasibility study in 2014 that determined Honolulu could benefit from such a program. Bikeshare Hawaii has a contract with Singapore-­based Secure Bike Share to handle its customer service and day-to-day operations.

FIRST-QUARTER BIKI STATISTICS

>> Total rides: 180,272
>> Unique users: 31,743 (43 percent members, 57 percent casual riders)
>> Most popular option: Free Spirit Pass ($20 for a bank of 300 minutes)
>> Average trip duration: 22 minutes, 25 seconds
>> Top 10 Biki stations: Waikiki (6) and Ala Moana/Kakaako (4)
>> Top three ZIP codes of Biki users: 96815 (Waikiki), 96813 (downtown/Chinatown) and 96826 (McCully/Moiliili)

* Source: Bikeshare Hawaii (as of Sept. 30)
Learn more at gobiki.org.

In June, Bikeshare Hawaii began rolling out 100 Biki stations offering 1,000 turquoise-colored bikes for rent on a combination of public and private properties stretching from Diamond Head to Chinatown. It met with initial resistance from some neighborhoods, most often over the placement of the Biki stations.

The Kapiolani Park Preservation Society did not want stations at the park, for instance, saying Biki is an equipment rental operation with ads on its bikes, which is against its rules. Others complained about the loss of metered parking stalls in increasingly congested neighborhoods like Kakaako.

Currently, Biki stations occupy 34 metered parking stalls in Honolulu, according to the city Department of Transportation Services.

The 10 most popular Biki stations are in the Waikiki, Ala Moana and Kakaako areas. One of them occupies two metered parking spaces in front of ARVO, a cafe on Auahi Street.

Casey Wiggins, co-owner of ARVO at the Salt retail complex, said the Biki station was an adjustment at first. But now she embraces it, and sometimes hops on a Biki bike to get together with friends in Chinatown.

“I think it is drawing people here,” she said. “It’s great exposure for us and part of the healthy, active lifestyle.”

Likewise, Monica Toguchi Ryan, owner of Highway Inn, a restaurant also at the Salt complex, said she rides a Biki almost daily to run errands within a 1-mile radius, whether it’s a hair appointment or a trip to Longs Drugs. She and her husband also take the Biki to get coffee at Ward Village on Sunday mornings.

“I love it,” said Ryan, who also lives in Kakaako. “It’s wonderful to have this Biki station here.”

Not everyone is pleased with Biki, which remains a point of contention in Chinatown.

Tony Nguyen, whose family owns Lin’s Lei Shop, sees both the bulb-out and Biki station at the corner of Maunakea and North King streets as contributing to a drop in customers. The Biki stop is within a bulb-out near several longtime businesses, including the lei shop, Jerry’s Jade & Gems and an antique furniture shop.

“This Maunakea strip is extra busy,” he said, “especially for a retail shop where we rely on customers coming in and out.”

Customers used to stop along the curb to purchase a lei, but now they cannot. He admits it was previously a no-parking zone, but customers were willing to take that risk. Potentially, it could be lost parking citation revenue for the city, he said.

“I get it,” said Nguyen, who is personally boycotting the Biki. “More bikes, less cars.”

He just wishes Bikeshare Hawaii would move the station elsewhere, a block farther makai, for instance.

McCarney, who is also a member of the Downtown-­Chinatown Neighborhood Board, said the city had planned the bulb-outs in advance of the bikeshare rollout and suggested the station within it. She wants to gather various constituents of Chinatown to determine where additional Biki stations could go to bring more visitors to the neighborhood.

The Biki stations that are often among the 10 least used, she said, are the ones at Beretania and Isenberg streets, Halekauwila and South streets and by Aloha Tower Marketplace (Bishop Street and Aloha Tower Drive).

McCarney said Bikeshare Hawaii is evaluating those stations but is not likely to move them any time soon.

Once residents move into Keauhou Place, she said, perhaps the adjacent Halekauwila/South streets station will get more use. As for Aloha Tower Marketplace, perhaps the station is not as visible as it could be for students at Hawaii Pacific University and could benefit from more publicity. The Beretania/Isenberg location near the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii is primarily residential, so it might take longer to catch on, she said.

A few Biki stations at Ala Moana Regional Park moved due to sprinkler renovations. One at University Avenue was adjusted a few feet to improve drivers’ line of sight. McCarney said moving stations will get more difficult as time goes on.

In an effort to generate interest, Bikeshare Hawaii partnered with about 20 restaurants to offer discounts for Biki users in August and is partnering with retail businesses for its next promotion, “Biki Buys,” in November. Biki is also now offering a “Request a Biki Stop” form online.

“We’re still learning,” said McCarney. “The best thing we can do is listen to the community, our users, look at patterns and then try to build a substantial transportation system that works for the community. So we’re never going to be done making improvements.”