Businesses in Chinatown have safety concerns regarding a Biki docking station located near Maunakea and King streets.
“If [an] emergency was happening, they would have to back up all the way to Hotel Street,” Alex Nguyen said.
Nguyen’s family has owned and operated Lin’s Lei Shop on Maunakea Street for almost 25 years.
The location of the Biki docking station, just steps from his family’s storefront, is creating numerous problems.
Nguyen pointed at parked police cars at the end of Maunakea Street near the police substation and explained that they no longer have a clear path down the street.
He said that the change is causing a safety issue as well as increased congestion in the area.
In an email, a city spokesman said that the area to the corner of King and Maunakea was marked with hatching that did not permit parking, stopping, or standing at any time, and that police cars used to park in the location, which is adjacent to the substation, and therefore was rarely available for customers to pull in or out.
Nguyen also said the docking station is affecting his business “dramatically, because nobody can really turn in and do a quick run in and it’s really bad, because we don’t have very much space here,” he explained.
Nguyen’s shop isn’t the only business affected. Mei Fang, who owns Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery a couple of doors away from Nguyen’s lei shop, said her store lost between 10 to 15 percent of its business.
“Difficult traffic. You know Chinatown [it’s] hard to find parking already,” Fang said. “And then put in a lot of the bicycle stuff right here, and [it gets more difficult].”
Both Fang and Nguyen said they weren’t even notified before the Biki station was installed.
“They just came and painted it, put these pots out, and the Biki [stop], and that was it,” Nguyen said.
Justine Espiritu, Bikeshare Hawaii grants and programs manager, said she was unaware that businesses near the Maunakea Biki location had concerns.
“When it comes to safety concerns that the community raises, we definitely follow up and check on that,” Espiritu said.
Lori McCarney, Bikeshare Hawaii executive director, said, “We know that in other cities bike share helps small businesses. We are happy to work with the businesses in the area to try to accomplish that here.”
Despite all the issues the docking station is causing Nguyen said, “I’m not against Biki. I’m just against where they put this thing. If they just relocate it somewhere else, it would be fine, but this just seems like it’s the only one on the public street so that’s where it affects us a lot.”
Espiritu says Biki staff want to make sure they take everything into account, and they have moved Biki stations since the launch so it’s never out of the question. But she also said it’s a conversation that needs to have multiple groups involved, including engineers, community members, residents, and nearby businesses.
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