Bikes On Rice promotes health and safety

  • John Steinhorst/The Garden Island

    Briggs Knott makes sure Bike On Rice participants are safe as he follows behind cyclists Kelela and Remy Wakefield from Los Angeles.

  • John Steinhorst/The Garden Island

    Lee and Noreen Steinmetz take part in the Bikes On Rice event Tuesday along with nearly 50 other safe cyclists.

  • John Steinhorst/The Garden Island

    Remy Wakefield gets ready for Bikes on Rice Tuesday with her auntie Diane Stutchman and mom Kelela Wakefield.

Promoting healthy living and bicycle safety, “Bikes On Rice” brings together cyclists of all ages and abilities.

On Tuesday afternoon, nearly 50 people gathered at Lihue Civic Center with helmets, bright-colored clothes, and all the necessary safety gear.

Briggs Knott, owner of Lihue bike shop Briggs Bicycles, was there to double check that equipment was functioning and tires were pumped full of air before getting started.

“The more we’re out there, the more they expect to see us, and the safer we all are,” said event organizer, Jim Benkert. “If there’s a lot of cyclists out there on the road all the time, they expect to see us and we’re all better off.”

The slow-paced, hour-long ride cruised throughout surrounding Lihue neighborhoods and even stopped at Regency at Puakea Retirement &Assisted Living to have surprise birthday cake for Get Fit Kauai Director, Bev Brody.

“If both motorists and cyclists are looking out for each other, we can share the road,” said squad leader, Jennifer Jones-Patulli.

The social biking event includes trained team members throughout the course for anyone who needs assistance. Event coordinators recommend bringing flat tire repair kits and safety helmets; since state law requires helmets for kids under 16.

“The first most important thing is to always be aware of your surroundings,” Jones-Patulli said. “Be in visual contact with the cars around you. If a car stops at an intersection, look at them in the eye, wave to them, make a signal, say you’re there, be present, wear bright clothes, get lights on your bike. Simple things that make you get noticed are really important.”

California’s Remy Wakefield took part in the bicycle ride while visiting on vacation from Los Angeles with her mom and auntie.

“We just wanted to get some good old-fashioned exercise but not do any sort of running. So this was accommodating to us,” Wakefield said. “We’re wearing helmets and just being cautious looking out for cars.”

Cloudy skies, cool tradewinds and plenty of water kept riders safe from overheating and exhaustion.

“We thought it would be something fun to do,” said Wakefield’s auntie, Diane Stutchman. “And it’s good exercise.”

While bikers enjoyed pedaling alongside each other during the fun ride, they watched carefully for traffic and used hand signals to make motorists aware of their intentions.

One Kauai motorist, Kit Ellison, was concerned about the dangers of having bikes riding next to traffic. “It is nice of the County to give riders a lane to ride on next to hurtling traffic, but if traffic doesn’t know they are there (it could be) tragedy,” she said. Ellison knows one person whose insurance had to pay medical claims and replace the bicycle after hitting a rider without reflectors and lights.

“It could have been worse, so we all thanked God the rider lived to try suicide again another day,” she said.

After the smooth ride, the brightly colored group returned safely to the Civic Center with laughter and music for snacks and talk story. Bikes on Rice takes place the second Tuesday of every month; the next ride is scheduled for June 12. Be sure to wear bright clothes, make sure you have lights and reflectors, get a helmet and join the fun next month.

  1. Uncleaina May 9, 2018 6:18 am Reply

    What a terrible idea! Notice how they weren’t riding *to* something, they were just riding around. That’s because we’re not San Francisco, but people keep trying to make us like that. In a big city you might ride TO get somewhere but I bet 90% of these “safe riders” (cough) don’t live anywhere near Rice st. So it’s a PR stunt basically because they’re trying to promote biking around your neighborhood but their actual neighborhoods are miles away. It’s easy to predict the outcome- they’ll do this a few more times then either someone will get hit by a car or they’ll see it’s never going to make biking in that area safe by having a one hour event once a month. Fix the roads and quit pretending like riding bikes is an option- it’s not!

  2. hipocrit May 11, 2018 10:17 am Reply

    You have freedom of speech, I have freedom of travel via bike. respect that

  3. bicycle commuter May 14, 2018 1:24 pm Reply

    As for myself, I live in Lihue and bike *TO* the Bikes on Rice event. Also, the purpose stated in the article was for cars and bicycles to learn to share the road. This is so people can feel safe biking *TO* somewhere. I live “miles away” from my work and commute *TO* work by bicycle more than 50% of the time nine months out of the year. If drivers drive safely, pay attention, and don’t use their mobile phones while driving, there is no reason a safe bicyclist should be “hit”. According to your logic, no one should ever walk anywhere either.

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