35 Years of BikeEd


This year, Hawaii Bicycling League’s BikeEd program turns 35! You may be one of the 100,000 residents who went through the program in elementary school. But, for those unfamiliar, BikeEd is a 5-day course that teaches 4th grade students how to ride a bicycle, basic cycling safety, and laws of the road. Each year, HBL’s trained BikeEd instructors teach 8,000 students and serve more than 100 schools. We chatted with HBL’s Executive Director, Travis Counsell, to learn more about this successful program, and how BikeEd has benefited our community. 

Photo courtesy of Hawaii Bicycling League
Photo courtesy of Hawaii Bicycling League
Photo courtesy of Hawaii Bicycling League
Photo courtesy of Hawaii Bicycling League

Q: Why is it important to encourage children to start riding bikes early? 

Counsell: Riding a bicycle is a skill that can be enjoyed throughout life. There is ample research to suggest that staying active and healthy can have lifelong benefits, so best to start those habits early. By providing education during the formative years, we hope to create a solid foundation for smart, safe, and frequent bicycle riders. 

Q: Is there a reason 4th graders are chosen to complete the course? 

Counsell: 4th grade was chosen as that is the age where most children have learned how to bike, and some are starting to ride their bikes to school. The BikeEd program teaches the students how to safely ride their bikes to school, and teaches how to ride a bicycle for those who do not know how to ride.

Q: How does youth bike education benefit the community?

Counsell: Safe riding not only benefits the person riding the bicycle, but creates a safer community at large. We teach students to be more predictable in their riding, and be aware of the environment around them. Ideally these students continue incorporating bicycles into their lives as they get older, which will also lead to healthier communities. Graduates of the BikeEd program are now in City Council, State Legislature, and many other positions. By incorporating bikes into their education, ideally they'll have a broader understanding of how to support communities where there are safe and accessible options for people to walk, bike, and roll.

Q: How can a school enroll in this program? 

Counsell: We work directly with 4th grade teachers at public, private and charter schools to schedule the 5 day course. We are currently at capacity, but do have a waitlist in case we have an opening. We also are expanding to offer summer programming. Interested schools or programs can reach out to bikeed@hbl.org.

Q: Anything else you want to share about this program? 

This program is primarily funded through the City's Department of Transportation Services, however we do seek donations to help offset additional costs. This year is BikeEd Hawaii's 35th Anniversary! Perhaps you went through the program, or have a child that did, or just want to see more kids biking to school. We'd love to have your support. Learn more at hbl.org/bikeed35

Like most new things, it's generally easier to get started when you're a kid. However, if you never learned or went through the program, haven't been on a bike in a long time, or just want to refresh your knowledge and skills, Hawaii Bicycling League has plenty of FREE (or donation-based) workshops for residents of all ages and skill levels.

Want to participate but don't have a bike to use? HBL provides equipment for those participating in both the Adult Learn to Ride and Intro to E-Bike workshops. If you want to use a Biki bike during a workshop, please email kelsey@bikesharehawaii.org to request a complimentary Biki pass (while supplies last).

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