Flag of HuwaiiHawaii is a wonderful place to do just about anything, with its beautiful beaches and amazing scenery. This of course include biking! There are plenty of places to go cycling around the islands of Hawaii, but you also want to make sure you stay on the right side of the law (and the road!) while you ride. What should you know about bike laws in Hawaii?

The first thing to keep in mind is that the Honolulu Department of Transportation Services has some extensive definitions of bikes, roads, and even toy bikes! So far as Hawaii is concerned, a bicycle is “a vehicle operated solely by human power and has two tandem wheels on which people may ride. A bicycle also may have two front or two rear wheels.” (https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/hrscurrent/Vol05_Ch0261-0319/HRS0291C/HRS_0291C-0001.htm). Toy bikes are defined as a device moved by human power and having two tandem wheel (including two front wheels or two rear wheels) whose seat height is no more than 25 inches from the ground when the seat is adjusted to the highest position.

Hawaii defines toy bikes, but there’s nothing in the books (yet) about electric bikes. Go figure!

Bikes must be registered, which costs $15.00, and then a decal must be placed on the frame’s seat tube facing forward. There’s a $5.00 fee for transferring ownership. And if you lose your decal, you must pay $2.00 for a new one. If you use an expired or fake decal, you can be fined up to $500.00. This money is used for working on bike-ways, bike-way lights and power, controlling traffic in the bike-ways, financing bike-way constructions and promoting biking as a way of life, so it may feel like you’re being nickel and dimed, but it is helpful for many cyclists to stay safe on the road.

Where are you Allowed to Ride?

Hawaii uses most of the money it receives from registration and fines for the creation and maintenance of bike-ways. Cyclists who use a roadway are considered to have the same rights and duties as cars, but there are many bike-ways around Hawaii which cyclists must use whenever they are available. Those riding in the bike lane or on the road must travel in the same direction as the traffic. If you’re riding on the road, then you are to stay as close to the right-hand curb or on the shoulder of the roadway as practical, unless you are doing the following:

  • When preparing for a left turn at an intersection, private road or driveway.
  • When you’re avoiding hazards.
  • If the one-way streets have more than one lane of traffic.

While riding on the road, cyclists have ride single file. On a bike path, riding two abreast is allowed, assuming the lane is wide enough.

And sidewalks? A bike can be ridden at a speed of ten miles per hour or less on a sidewalk, but the rider must yield the right of way to pedestrians. Bike riding on sidewalks is prohibited in business districts or anywhere else that municipal law forbids it. When emerging from an alley, bike-way, or driveway, a cyclist has to yield the right of way to pedestrians and other vehicles before entering/crossing the sidewalk, bike-way, or road.

Bikes are also prohibited from riding on freeways, or pedestrian overpasses/underpasses, but Hawaii has been very good about providing bike paths to allow people to get around wherever they need to go.

There are a few things to keep in mind while riding to make sure you are riding as safely as possible. Cyclists cannot carry anything that prevents the rider from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars at all times. Cyclists should also mind that they aren’t distracted while riding; while it’s not illegal to ride while texting or listening to music, it’s not advisable as it can cause accidents between riders or between riders and cars or riders and pedestrians.

Safety Equipment While Riding

Hawaii has some standard and basic regulations regarding the type of safety equipment that must be used while riding. It is mandatory for bikers under the age of sixteen to wear a helmet and while it’s not mandatory for people over the age of sixteen, it’s a good idea!

Bicycles must have also use lights and reflectors when being used thirty minutes after sunset until thirty minutes before sunrise. These lights include a white head light, facing forward that is visible from five hundred feet. A red reflector must be mounted on the rare that can be seen from at least six hundred feet by a car using a low beam. Bikes must also have reflective material or light lamps on each side that can be seen from at least six hundred feet and any other additional lights.

Finally, bikes have to be equipped with brakes capable of bringing the bike to a complete stop within twenty five feet from a speed of ten miles per hour on dry, level, clean pavement. Other than the reflectors, helmet and brakes though, there’s not much else that is required from the safety side of things by Hawaii.

Hawaii also acknowledges vulnerable users, protecting cyclists by fining and charging drivers who injure or kill a cyclist (or other vulnerable road user), due to negligence. Hawaii does not on the other hand have laws to prevent distracted driving, though the laws do cover riding under the influence of drugs or alcohol since bikes are considered vehicles with the same rights and duties.

There isn’t much that is too strange to keep in mind while bike riding in Hawaii, other than the definitions of toy bikes to bear in mind. There is an absence of laws regarding electric bikes; they tend to fall under the umbrella of mopeds and scooters. Hawaii also keeps close tabs on the maintenance and building of bike paths all over the islands, ensuring that it’s easy to get around. Hawaii is a really fun place to poke around and see the sights and it’s even more fun from the seat of a bike, so enjoy!