I’m currently here in American Samoa for work and have been for the past month. After 30 days, you start to realize the normalcies and routine that you actually have. Mine definitely included biki (along with Moku Kitchen, but that’s another story). I started to have “withdrawals”.
For most of the island, transportation is either done by car or by mini-buses (Tacoma size pick-up trucks with campers going around the island to pick up students and residents). I saw a few individuals on bicycles and noticed their rides were to the next couple of houses or so. Which makes sense because roads aren’t as well maintained, and bike lanes are non-existent.
I realized how lucky I am to be able to have convenient options at my disposal for commuting and recreating. It is a privilege. Choices that I can pick and choose to get from where I am to where I want, or need, to be. And not only that, but to be able to bikeshare nonetheless.
I work in tech and to think of bikesharing as a piece of modernization was something I hadn’t given much thought because I was so familiar with it as part of my everyday life. But if you’ve never had the option to bikeshare, you’d never know what you’re missing out on. However, living in a community that has those opportunities, it’s made me more grateful and more motivated to share it with others.
In places like American Samoa, many of the roads are one way in and one way out, rural, and loaded with trucks and cars piling in line just to get to a village less than 5-10 miles away. Progressing technology and enriching communities doesn’t have to look too futuristic and lose the heart of the home. It could be simplistic. Paved roads, bike lanes, and reliable bikes. Island-sized areas with less unnecessary car congestion, adding a more sustainable commute, and increasing an active lifestyle, all while matching the pace of life.
Many residents said engineering the roads to be less overgrown and keeping them maintained to sustain resilience against weather conditions, would be a step towards the modernization necessary for their home and community. It’s the little things that can have such a big impact. Imagine even our own Oahu with more bike lanes, bike stations, bikesharing, and maintained roads? I think we can all agree perfectly maintained roads and paths sounds blissful. Sometimes it takes getting out of your own neighborhood and comfortable schedule to gain a little perspective and inspiration.
For now, it’s baby steps towards seeing a future that I want for Honolulu and the rest of Hawaii. It’s using what’s already in my hands. Time and amateur skill to teach a friend how to ride a bike, get someone going on their first biki experience, gather a group of friends to get out and ride to your favorite beach spot, or just talk to people in my workplace and community about bikeshare. It’s funny how biking can elevate a conversation to many directions – nostalgia, jitters and butterflies of trying it, new thoughts, considerations, and the classic debate… pronouncing biki as "beekee" or "bick-ee".
Despite how I choose to say it, I’m grateful for the opportunity to biki, to have it in my city, and to have the privilege to share it with others. A classic piece of technology to restore a neighborhood and progress a community.