Kokua Line: Close call inspires question about ‘invisible’ bicyclist riding at night
Question: I almost hit a person cycling Ewa on Nimitz Highway near Sand Island Road the other night. He/she was wearing dark clothes, the bike had no light or reflectors and hence was almost invisible in an area with few street lights.
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Question: I almost hit a person cycling Ewa on Nimitz Highway near Sand Island Road the other night. He/she was wearing dark clothes, the bike had no light or reflectors and hence was almost invisible in an area with few street lights. I was just wondering whether there are any minimum legal requirements for cyclists (aside from common sense, which this person obviously lacked) regarding bicycle equipment, reflective gear, etc.
Answer: Yes. State law requires that bicyclists riding before dawn or after sunset use lights, reflectors or a combination to ensure that they are visible on the road. The requirements are spelled out in Hawaii Revised Statutes 291C-147, which states in part:
“(a) Any bicycle used from thirty minutes after sunset until thirty minutes before sunrise shall be equipped with a lamp on the front emitting a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front.
“(b) Every bicycle shall be equipped with a red reflector at least four square inches in size, which shall be visible for six hundred feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle.
“(c) Every bicycle when in use at the time described in subsection (a) shall be equipped with reflective material at least four square inches in size and of sufficient size and reflectivity to be visible from both sides for six hundred feet when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle, or, in lieu of such reflective material, with a lighted lamp visible from both sides from a distance of at least five hundred feet.
“(d) A bicycle or its rider may be equipped with lights or reflectors in addition to those required by the foregoing subsections.
“(e) A lamp meeting the specification of subsection (a) displayed on the left arm or left leg of the bicycle operator shall be considered to meet the requirements of subsection (a).”
You can read the full text at 808ne.ws/bikelight.
Although your concern was about a bicyclist, Kokua Line receives similar complaints about pedestrians wearing dark clothing while walking before dawn or after dusk, who might not realize they are barely visible to oncoming traffic. Shoes, caps, shorts, shirts and other clothing made of or incorporating reflective material are widely available; wearing such attire can help bicyclists, joggers, walkers and others be more visible. There also are flashlights or headlamps meant for pedestrians, which emit a white light out front to illuminate one’s path, and a red light from the rear, to increase visibility.
Already this year, six pedestrians have died on Hawaii’s roadways — three in Honolulu County, two in Hawaii County and one in Maui County — according to the state Department of Transportation. They were among 15 traffic fatalities recorded from Jan. 1 through Wednesday; none of the 15 were bicyclists. The DOT posts these statistics weekly, hoping to raise awareness and boost safety.
I hit the curb at the corner of Beretania Street and Ward Avenue, blowing my tire out. I pulled into the Honolulu Museum of Art parking lot. I didn’t have my phone with me. A beautiful young lady came to see if I was all right and let me use her phone to call for roadside assistance. But I got disconnected. Then a security guard at the museum came out and let me use his phone to call the roadside service again. He stayed with me as long as he could. There was another security guard who was really nice, too. I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the nice lady and the security guards. You are so kind and so sweet! God bless all of you! — Gratefully, “Auntie”
Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.