‘Rice Roll’ promotes bike safety, another way to get around

LIHUE — Tommy Noyes wants Kauai residents to feel comfortable riding bikes.

“Really where we want to be is the young mother who needs a loaf of bread and half-gallon of milk to get on her bike and ride the mile-and-half to the store,” he said. “It doesn’t consume any fossil fuels or congest the road ways. But that person needs to be comfortable and have safe way of doing it.”

So Noyes, of Kauai Path, and others are hosting a six-mile Rice Roll bicycle ride today at 4:45 p.m, starting at the Lihue Civic Center Rotunda and ending at the Kauai Beer Company.

“This will be a way to get the interested rider out on the street and enjoying a group activity in a safe setting. We believe it will lead to decisions that make our transportation system more geared toward active transportation,” he said.

Because Rice Street will soon be undergoing a transformation to make it a walkable, bikeable area, the Rice Roll is a way to show what the revitalization project can do for the town core, Noyes said.

In October 2015, the county received the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant, to the tune of $13.8 million, to revitalize Rice Street.

Improvements include creating bicycle lanes on Rice and Hoolako streets.

Noyes expects about 40 people to show up to the Rice Roll, which is modeled after the Detroit Slow Rolls, a weekly event where 3,000 people bike around the town.

“This is the kind of thing that stimulates community cohesiveness. It’s a healing thing,” Noyes said. “We want to do something that is appropriate and meaningful for our community.”

Jen Chahanovich, president and CEO of Wilcox Medical Center, said the Rice Roll will also promote a healthy lifestyle.

During the ride, volunteers with Kauai Path will be conducting a safety briefing. Others will be wearing high-visibility vests to monitor the ride to make sure people are safe.

“Nobody gets left behind,” Noyes said. “It’s not like we’re going into the wilderness, but we’re just adding another comfort layer.”

For those needing a bicycle to participate, Kauai Path can often accommodate requests for loaner equipment submitted through their website, KauaiPath.org.

Noyes said a goal is to make sure people have fun and see that biking is a viable way of getting around in the community.

“And if nothing else, it will give them more empathy when they see a cyclist on the road, and be more respectful of them,” he said.

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