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City bans Pocket Bikes at Parks!


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Safety concerns prompt ban on pocket bikes at city parks

Alex Andres, a mechanic at Cycle Imports on McCully Street, sits on a Polini GP3 pocket bike, which sells for $2,995 at the store. Andres says this is the store's top-of-the-line pocket bike.


A Honolulu police traffic sergeant said he wants to ban so-called pocket bikes and future motorized items from the roads and sidewalks.

"It doesn't stop," said Sgt. Robert Lung during a transportation safety summit held Tuesday at the Blaisdell Center. "Pocket bikes are a nationwide problem. ... When we take it off, they'll devise another thing."

A pocket bike is generally 3 feet long and 2 feet high and can hold a person who weighs up to 200 pounds. The bikes can operate at 30 to 40 mph, but police said there are some that can exceed that speed.

Lung recalled complaints police received about motorized scooters on sidewalks. After a ban was imposed, "now we have pocket bikes," he said.

Nick Kakaroukas, a representative of Mayor Jeremy Harris, told the Mililani/Waipio/Melemanu Neighborhood Board last night that the city is banning pocket bikes from the island's parks.

"They're turning into quite a nuisance," Kakaroukas said.

The ban, implemented for safety reasons, extends to all Oahu parks. "The Parks Department has amended" its list of banned recreational equipment to "specifically ban these vehicles," he said.

More of these bikes are being sold, said Dick Poirier, chairman of the Mililani Neighborhood Board: "They have to find a place where they can do that kind of stuff."

Staff members and park users at Central Oahu Regional Park and the Waipio Soccer Complex have complained to the city about the noise and safety of pocket bikes, said Glenn Kajiwara, city Department of Parks and Recreation manager in Central Oahu.

Kajiwara also said they have received complaints of racing in parking lots and the use of pocket bikes on park walkways and pathways.

Signs at the Central Oahu Regional Park were installed last week to prohibit the use of pocket bikes. Signs are expected to be installed today at the Waipio Soccer Complex.

The bikes' size makes safety a primary concern.

"They are so low to the ground ... it's hard to see when cars reverse out of parking stalls," Kajiwara said. "It's an accident waiting to happen."

Other parks, such as Neal Blaisdell Park and Kakaako Waterfront Park, are other places where pocket bikes were seen.

George Burmeister, owner of Cycle Imports Hawaii on McCully Street, said his store experienced a surge in pocket bike sales during the summer.

"We're getting 20 phone calls a day," said Burmeister of the bikes, which cost an estimated $500 to $600.

Some people are selling them out of their garages and over the Internet, he added.

"When we sell them, we tell them it's not supposed to be ridden on the street," Burmeister said.

Burmeister, who supports regulations for pocket bikes, suggested a park be designed for their use.

"We need a designated motor sports park," he said.

City Council Transportation Chairman Nestor Garcia said he would be willing to look into a park for pocket bikers.

"With anything new, you try to see what you can do. The bottom line is public safety," said Garcia.

Chris Frost, owner of Superbikes Hawaii in Aiea, said he is not interested in selling pocket bikes because of the lack of parts available.

"You can't get parts for them," said Frost, who has received 10 to 12 calls a day for pocket bike parts.

Reimar Muniz, manager of Razor Concepts at Pearlridge Center, supports the idea of a park for pocket bikes.

"If there's an outlet, it's better off," said Muniz.

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