Bike Laws for Honolulu, HI
MOST COMMON QUESTIONS
Simple answer: Yes. Any bicycle (with wheels over 20″ in diameter) that will be operated on the roadways must be registered with the City & County of Honolulu to ride on O‘ahu (it’s a $15 one-time fee that can really help HPD get your bike back to you in the case it gets stolen). The (one-time) registration fee for Class 1 pedal-assist electric bicycles (under than 750watts / 1 h.p.) is $30.
TIP: Check out the helpful guide HBL put together on how to register your new/used/second-hand bicycle.
If you are 16 years of age and biking, yes, you must wear a helmet when biking.
HEAD’s UP: HBL believes that helmets, when correctly fit to a rider’s head, offer potentially life-saving benefits–regardless if you’re 16 & 1/2 years old, 60 years old, novice or been riding all your life.
Yes. In residential areas (places with just houses all around), you can bike on the sidewalk. HI Law also says you are not allowed to ride any faster than 10MPH; you must yield to all pedestrians, as well as give them a (friendly) heads up with your voice/bell before you pass them.
TIP: Be extra cautious though since drivers & pedestrians are expecting slower-moving walkers there & may not see you if you’re riding quickly.
Sidewalk biking in any Business District like Waikīkī or Downtown is illegal. Basically, if you’re not a residential area, don’t bike on the sidewalk.
Lights! And reflectors. HI Law states that from 30min. after the sun sets till 30min. before the sun rises, your bike must have at least:
- Front white light
- Rear red reflector
- Side reflective material or lighted lamps
TIP: Adding a rear flashing red light and more reflectors to your clothing/bags & bike is a great idea. Slow your speeds down, ride even more attentively, and bike where you are sure to be seen.
Bike Laws for Honolulu, HI
This comprehensive list of regulations was taken from the City & County of Honolulu Department of Transportation Services (DTS) website. It covers everything from where bikes can ride, to sidewalk laws, helmet usage, and dooring. The more frequently used section links are bold. What you see immediately on the web pages are a summary of the Hawai‘i Revised Statutes for ease of understanding. For the “full legal text” of the laws as passed by the State Legislature, click the “Link to full legal text” under each section. If there is a disagreement about what the law means, it’s best to use the full legal text.
HRS 291-C referrs to state law in effect statewide. Sections 15- refer to Honolulu’s Revised Ordinances, which apply to Honolulu only; each county may have it’s own ordinances which differ from Honolulu’s.
[Since July 10, 2012 the new Vulnerable Users Law is in effect. This law doubles penalties for motorists who kill or seriously injure vulnerable users (cyclists, pedestrians, police officers, road workers, etc.) acting legally. View the full Vulnerable Users law here.]
1. Definitions (§291C-1)
2. Bicycle lane markings (§291C-38)
3. Bicycle tax (§249-14)
4. Exemption from fee and tag (§249-14.3)
5. Seizure and sale of nonregistered vehicles (§249-15)
6. Duplicate bicycle decals (§249-16)
7. False decal, penalty (§249-17)
8. Bikeway Fund (§249-17.5)
9. Accidents (§291C-12, 291C-13, 291C-14)
10. Payment from which insurer (§431:10C-304)
11. Driving on a bikeway (§291C-123)
12. Pedestrians on roadways (§291C-76)
13. Effect of regulations (§291C-141)
14. Traffic laws apply to bicyclists (§291C-142)
15. Riding on bicycles (§291C-143)
16. No clinging to vehicles (§291C-144)
17. Riding on roadways and bikeways (§291C-145)
18. Carrying articles (§291C-146)
19. Lights and other equipment on bicycles (§291C-147)
20. Vehicles to yield right-of-way (§15-11.2)
21. Emerging from alley, driveway, or building (§291C-64)
22. Storing vehicles (§15-13.10)
23. No riding on pedestrian overpass or underpass (§15-17.9)
24. Obedience to traffic controls (§15-18.3)
25. Speed (§15-18.4)
26. Bicycle Racing (§291C-149)
27. Emerging from alley, bikeway, or driveway (§15-18.5)
28. Parking (§15-18.6)
29. Riding on sidewalks (§15-18.7)
30. Waikīkī (§15-4.6c)
31. Direction of travel on bike lanes (§15-18.8)v
32. Bicycle helmets (§291C-150)
33. Regulations for bicycle paths (§15-18.10)
34. Opening and closing vehicle doors (§291C-125)
- A bicycle is a vehicle operated solely by human power and has two tandem wheels on which people may ride. A bicycle also may have two front or two rear wheels. Toy bicycles are not included in this definition.
- A bicycle lane is a portion of any roadway which is reserved for the use of bicycles.
- A bicycle path is a bicycle lane that is physically separated from a roadway.
- A bicycle route is any highway that is signed for use by bicycles and pedestrians or bicycles and motor vehicles or shared by all three.
- “Bikeway” means a bicycle lane, path, or route.
- A roadway is any publicly maintained way which is open to public use for vehicular traffic.
- A vehicle is a device that transports persons or property on a roadway and includes bicycles.
- A toy bicycle is a device moved by human power and having two tandem wheels (including bicycles with two front or two rear wheels) whose seat height is not more than twenty-five (25) inches from the ground when the seat is adjusted to the highest position; or scooter or similar device, regardless of seat height.
Bicycle lane markings (§291C-38)
There shall be a fee of $5.00 when transferring registered ownership of a bicycle.
Exemption from fee and tag (§249-14.3)
All new bicycles acquired for sale by a business are exempt from the tax but upon being sold, the dealer will (1) have the buyer complete the license application forms, (2) give the buyer a completed copy of the form, and (3) send the other copies to the Finance Department, along with the tax and fees collected from the buyer.
The decal and certificate of registration will be mailed to the new owner. Until the new owner receives them, he or she should carry a copy of the completed application when using the bicycle on a roadway.
Seizure and sale of nonregistered vehicles (§249-15)
Any bicycle having no decal as described in the previous section is subject to impoundment by City officials. The owner has ten (10) days in which to recover the vehicle by paying the tax due and a $1.00 penalty. Unclaimed bikes will be sold at public auction after a five-day public notice is given through advertising in a newspaper or posted notices in at least three public places. Upon the sale of a bike, any money received beyond the tax and fees due plus the cost of advertising will be given to the vehicle’s owner, if the owner is known. If the owner cannot be located in ninety (90) days, the money will be kept by the City.
Duplicate bicycle decals (§249-16)
If you lose your decal, you may obtain a duplicate for $2.00. Just present the number and registration of the bicycle involved to the City.
False decal, penalty (§249-17)
Any person who uses an unauthorized or expired decal, counterfeits a decal or fraudulently removes a decal from any bicycle shall be fined up to $500.
All taxes collected for bicycles are deposited in the City and County of Honolulu bikeway fund to be used for:
- Establishing, designing, improving, and maintaining bikeways, including installing and repairing storm drains and bridges;
- Installing, maintaining, and repairing bikeway lights and power, including replacing old lights;
- Controlling bikeway traffic and preserving safety in the bikeway;
- Paying interest and redeeming bonds issues to finance bikeway construction and improvements;
- Promoting bicycling transportation and recreation.
Accidents (§291C-12, 291C-13, 291C-14)
Link to full legal text – §291C-12.5, §291C-12.6, §291C-13, §291C-14
The driver of any vehicle who is involved in an accident which results in injury or death or damage to vehicle or property must immediately stop at or near the scene of the accident and exchange information with the party or parties involved.
Information should include one’s name and address and registration of the vehicle involved. Assistance to the injured should also be given, including arrangements for medical treatment.
When property damage occurs to an unattended vehicle, the driver must try to locate the owner and, if not possible, leave his or her name and vehicle registration number in a conspicuous place. Then the driver must contact the nearest police station.
Payment from which insurer (§431:10C-304)
In an accident where the injured person is a pedestrian or bicyclist, the insurer for the vehicle which caused accidental harm pays the costs. If there is no insurance for the vehicle, any other no-fault insurance applicable to the injured person shall apply.
Driving on a bikeway (§291C-123)
Vehicles other than a bicycle are not allowed on the bicycle lane or bicycle path, except:
- When making a turn, lane change, or parking maneuver;
- When driving an emergency vehicle or any other official government vehicle in the performance of duty;
- When a vehicle stalls or breaks down;
- When assisting a stalled or damaged vehicle;
- When yielding the right-of-way to an emergency vehicle; and
- When following some special provision of the law.
Pedestrians on roadways (§291C-76)
Where there are sidewalks, it is unlawful to walk on the adjacent roadway, bicycle path, or bicycle lane.
When there are no sidewalks, pedestrians are to walk on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder facing traffic approaching from the opposite direction.
Effect of regulations (§291C-141)
It is a misdemeanor for you to commit any forbidden act or fail to perform any act required in this part (Sec. 291C).
The parents of any child shall not authorize or permit their child to violate this chapter.
These bicycle regulations apply whenever a bicycle is used on a roadway or bicycle path.
Traffic laws apply to bicyclists (§291C-142)
Bicyclists using a roadway have all the rights and duties applicable to the driver of a motor vehicle, except as stated by special bicycle regulations and except for those provisions which by their nature cannot be applied to bicyclists.
Riding on bicycles (§291C-143)
The bicyclist must ride on the permanent, regular seat attached to the bicycle. No bicycle shall be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it was designed and equipped.
No clinging to vehicles (§291C-144)
When riding a bicycle, do not attach it or yourself to another vehicle.
Riding on roadways and bikeways (§291C-145)
When traveling slower than the normal speed of traffic, bicyclists are to ride as close to the right hand curb or on the shoulder of the roadway, as practical. Be careful when passing a stopped vehicle or one going the same direction. There are the allowed exceptions to the “right hand” rule:
- When preparing for a left turn at an intersection, private road, or driveway;
- When necessary to avoid hazards that make it unsafe to ride along the right hand curb. This includes situations where the traffic lane is too narrow for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to travel safely side-by-side; or
- When one-way streets have more than one lane of traffic, the bicyclist may ride near the left hand curb or edge.
On a roadway, bicyclists must ride single file. On bicycle lanes and paths, riding two abreast is permitted when the lane or path is wide enough and when there is no rule or ordinance specifically prohibiting it.
When a roadway has a usable bicycle lane, bicyclists must ride within the lane if they are going slower than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction.
Bicyclists are allowed to move out of the lane when:
- Wishing to pass another vehicle or a pedestrian and they cannot safely do so while staying within the lane;
- Preparing for a left turn at an intersection, private road, or driveway; or
- Avoiding debris or other hazardous conditions.
- Bicyclists are not to leave a bicycle lane unless the movement can be done safely and then only after they have given the appropriate turn signal.
Bicyclists riding in a bicycle lane shall travel in the same direction as the traffic in the adjoining roadway lane. When riding on bicycle paths wide enough for two-way traffic, bicyclists must stay to their right.
The State and City governments have the right to restrict or ban the use of mopeds on bikeways.
The City government, by ordinance, may post signs on bicycle lanes and paths prohibiting motorized bicycles from using them.
Bicyclists cannot carry a package or article which prevents the driver from using both hands to control and operate the bicycle. One hand must be on the handlebars at all times.
Lights and other equipment on bicycles (§291C-147)
Any bicycle used from thirty (30) minutes after sunset until thirty (30) minutes before sunrise must have a head light, facing forward, which meets these specifications:
- Emits a white light;
- Is visible at least five hundred (500) feet from the front.
- Every bicycle must have a red reflector at least four (4) inches square, mounted in the rear, which can be seen at least six hundred (600) feet from the front of a vehicle with low beam lights on.
- Every bicycle in use during the time described in #1 above must have a 4-inch square reflective material or lighted lamps on each side which can be seen at least six hundred (600) feet from the front of the vehicle with low beam lights on, or a lighted lamp visible on both sides from a distance of at least five hundred (500) feet.
- Bicycles and/or riders may have additional lights or reflectors.
- A lamp as described in #1 above may be attached on the left arm or left leg of the bicycle operator, but must conform with requirement #1.
Bicycles must be equipped with brakes capable of bringing the bicycle to a complete stop within 25 feet from a speed of 10 mph on dry, level, clean pavement.
Vehicles to yield right-of-way (§15-11.2)
The driver of a vehicle intending to turn across a bicycle lane must yield the right-of-way to bicyclists.
Emerging from alley, driveway, or building (§291C-64)
The driver of a vehicle coming from an alley, driveway, building, or any place other than a roadway shall stop before crossing the sidewalk, bicycle path or lane, or at the point nearest the street to be entered where the driver has a view of approaching traffic.
The City may order any vehicle that is left unattended or disabled on a bicycle lane or path to be removed and stored.
No riding on pedestrian overpass or underpass (§15-17.9)
Do not ride a bicycle on a pedestrian overpass or underpass. Riders must dismount from their vehicle before using such structures.
Obedience to traffic controls (§15-18.3)
Bicyclists must obey the instructions of official traffic control signs, signals, and other devices, unless otherwise directed by a police officer or other person authorized to direct traffic.
Bicyclists must obey posted “U” turn signs unless they dismount, in which event they must obey the regulations applicable to pedestrians.
Bicycle lanes are reserved exclusively for bicycles, but pedestrians may use the lanes when no paved sidewalks are provided. Bicyclists must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in bicycle lanes.
Do not ride a bicycle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions at the time.
Bicycle racing is prohibited on the roadways unless the riders are participating in an approved racing event. Approval for races must be obtained from the authorities who are responsible for the roadway. Racers may be exempt from complying with the traffic laws only if an agreement has been established with the pertinent authorities and there is adequate traffic control for all roadway users.
Emerging from alley, bikeway, or driveway (§15-18.5)
The bicyclist emerging from an alley, driveway, bikeway, or building shall yield the right-of-way to all pedestrians and other vehicles before entering or crossing the sidewalk, bikeway, or roadway.
No person shall park a bicycle upon a street other than upon the roadway against the curb, or upon the sidewalk in a rack to support the bicycle, or against a building; and in such a manner as to afford the least obstruction to pedestrian traffic.
Riding on sidewalks (§15-18.7)
Bicycle riding on sidewalks is prohibited within a business district (such as Downtown Honolulu, Waikīkī).
Do not ride a bicycle on sidewalks where official signs prohibit it.
In areas other than business or prohibited districts, bicycles may be ridden on sidewalks provided the speed is 10 mph or less. The bicycle operator must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians, giving an audible signal before overtaking them.
Business District definition (§291C-1)
“Business district” means the territory contiguous to and including a highway when within any six hundred feet along such highway there are buildings in use for business or industrial purposes, including but not limited to hotels, banks, or office buildings, and public buildings which occupy at least three hundred feet of frontage on one side or three hundred feet collectively on both sides of the highway.
No person shall ride a bicycle, skateboard, or roller skate upon any sidewalk in Waikīkī.
Direction of travel on bike lanes (§15-18.8)
No person shall ride or operate a bicycle within a bicycle lane in any direction except that permitted of vehicular traffic traveling on the same side of the roadway.
No person under sixteen (16) years of age shall operate a bicycle on a street, bikeway, or any other public property unless that person is wearing a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet. This requirement also applies to a person who rides upon a bicycle while in a restraining seat that is attached to the bicycle or who rides in a trailer towed by the bicycle.
Everything you need to know about proper helmet fit can be found on this link https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/8019_fitting-a-helmet.pdf
Regulations for bicycle paths (§15-18.10)
These regulations apply to bicycle paths owned by the City and County or made available to the City for public use:
- Only bicycles without motors or authorized motor vehicles that are permitted by posted signs may be used on bicycle paths.
- No vehicles shall be parked on the path except authorized maintenance and security vehicles.
- Do not drive a vehicle across the path without first coming to a full stop.
Opening and closing vehicle doors (§291C-125)
Do not open door of a vehicle on the side of moving traffic until it is reasonably safe to do so. Check that you will not interfere with or create a hazard to other traffic. Do not leave the door open longer than necessary.