Bicycles? No Sked Um!
Opinion by Christopher Carey
When was the last time you thought about bicycles? Was it watching Carlo riding down from Kaunakakai Wharf, or a vague memory of keiki days?
Many of us dismiss bicycles as childhood relics, but gasoline prices continue to soar in Hawaii. Rather than casting stink-eye at Molokai Chevron as we pass, perhaps it’s time to do something more constructive about a real economic crisis that only continues to worsen each month.
Recently, three college students drove an old London taxi 32,500 miles around the world in about 14 months. Buying gasoline in a number of countries highlighted the fact that the United States has the cheapest gas in the world. However true, try convincing Molokai residents of that, who are now suffering per-gallon costs of nearly $5.40!
More recently, Eileen Chao wrote in the Dispatch on the problem of rising fuel costs and the financial strain this has been creating for residents. Despite affirming that the situation will only become more worrisome, Chao noted that locals are “finding creative ways to save gas,” such as consolidating trips, carpooling and even riding horses. But surprisingly, bicycles weren’t mentioned.
The fact is that human-powered two-wheeled transportation is almost free, costing only the price of the bike and the cost of occasional flats. In many countries, bicycles are the primary means of both getting around and carrying local goods.
One overlooked aspect of the bicycle use is the health benefit, since riding a bicycle can help keep weight off, maintain fitness and control serious medical problems like high blood pressure and diabetes. There are few finer, more beneficial, healthy alternatives to use of automobiles to be found anywhere. And yes, they’re also fun!
Over the past 75 years, the islands have become contaminated with obsessive “car culture” from the mainland. Cars are regarded as status symbols, particularly by those who tend to think cars are cool and bicycles are not. That’s not to say that cars and light trucks do not have their important uses, but we need to cut back on unnecessary car use and reconsider using bicycles, given their potential as free transportation alternatives. Especially on flat islands like Molokai.
Uncle Phil of Molokai Bicycles would be happy to help explain those benefits any time! Why not drop by and talk story with him about the only free transportation around: the humble but enduring bicycle!