Rice Roll welcomes 50 cyclists

LIHUE — Ali Adams decided to bike Rice Street as a way to kickstart a personal fitness journey.

“I don’t get into trouble when I stay moving,” she said.

Adams was one of about 50 people decked out in bright orange shirts who gathered at the Lihue Civic Center Tuesday to bicycle down Rice Street and its surrounding areas.

“This is a way to bond with my dad and meet new people,” she said.

The ride, called the Rice Roll, is the first of its kind and was made possible through a partnership between the County of Kauai, Hawaii Pacific Health, Wilcox Health, Get Fit Kauai, Kauai Path and the Lihue Business Association.

Officials hope it will not only promote bicycle safety, but also show people that biking can be a viable way to get around the island. It’s also to encourage vehicle drivers to share the road.

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.

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

“We’re going to create an environment that is safe for pedestrians and bicyclists,” said Bev Brody, of Get Fit Kauai.

Jim Benkert, an avid cyclist, said he doesn’t train outside because he doesn’t feel safe on the roads.

“There aren’t a lot of shoulders on the roads. And the ones that do are overgrown with grass,” he said. “I bike 100 miles a week, but most of that is inside.”

Benkert, who lives in Lihue, said he’d train outdoors if roads better served pedestrians and bicyclists.

“It’s a shame to be in Hawaii and not be able ride outside,” he said.

Tuesday was Benkert’s first ride on a bike he built, which took about a month to complete.

“Someone gave me a bike, and it was old and nasty. This was a fun project,” he said.

While his wife, Lori Benkert, said she’s done a few of the community rides with Kauai Path, she doesn’t consider herself to be an avid biker.

“We biked to get here. It wasn’t a big deal,” she said. “But I’d bike more if it was easier.”

Anne Foss-Durant, who lives in Kalaheo, recently moved to Kauai from California. She said she was part of a cycling group there and was happy to learn she could continue the hobby on the Garden Isle.

“It’s always good to have a group of cyclists,” she said. “It’s hard to go out and cycle by yourself.”

She appreciates that bike riding isn’t competitive.

“People seem to enjoy it,” she said.

But Adams said she is in competition with herself.

“I want to prove to myself I can bike,” she said. “I just got a job at Duke’s, and I live down the road, so I can bike to work. There’s no need to have a car. There’s so many benefits to biking.”

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