I have seen bikeshare systems in various cities across the US and Europe. Basically, bikeshare is where you can rent a bike at one station and then drop it off at another station. So, they serve primarily to get you short distances from point A to point B. I know that a bikeshare program will be launched in Hawaii soon, so I was curious about how these systems work, what the bikes are like, etc. I was visiting Kailua and spotted a bikeshare station, so I parked my car and went about renting a bike. Mind you, the lone two stations in Kailua were installed simply as a test, so I couldn’t explore much more than basics.
But my real “ah ha!” wasn’t about the bike or the system. It was about my interactions with motorists during my little test ride. Drivers were much nicer to me when I was dressed in street clothes on a bulky bike with a basket than they typically are to me when I’m in cycling clothes on a road or tri bike.
Fascinating! I needed to cross the road and cars stopped to let me cross. I hesitated at a traffic light and cars patiently waited for me to get started and cross the street. I generally felt that people were looking out for me and trying to keep me safe on my little adventure.
I know that there is not always a lot of aloha between motorists and cyclists. And I have had my share of scary and dangerous experiences with drivers while I’m on my bike. But what I learned from this experience is that motorists do have the potential to care more about our safety. If they see us as real people–nice people, people like them that they should care about, we may be able to slowly win them over. I’m going to do all I can to help improve our image–stop at red lights, not ride side-by-side, wave to drivers when they do something nice, etc. And I will never flip-off a driver or yell obscenities at them (unless they truly scare the heck out of me). Join me?
PS. I’m excited about BikeShare coming to Hawaii!