After several deaths on the gorgeous, yet technical, Haleakala, Hawaii is proposing restrictions on bicycle tours.
As far as controlling Haleakala tours, this is likely overdue. There are a lot of tours, and they’re marketed as being easy for anyone, because a van brings you up the mountain, then pushes you off. No fitness needed!
Bike tour. Let’s see:
- Generally, this means you’re with a group of people.
- Decent on a downhill is, I think, a harder skill than climbing a hill — more handling required, and more risk.
- Haleakala has a fairly narrow road with somewhat technically demanding turns.
- …and these downhill journeys are marketed to novices?
Of course there have been problems! This just screams ‘bad idea’ in every way but economically. One of the accidents involved a trip leader, but I have to wonder if the trip leader’s handling was impacted by the ‘ducklings’ around said leader.
One concern with recent rules being passed and discussed on Maui for regulation is that they may not simply control access to Haleakala. This could impact other touring companies providing other services. It’s hard to dispute that the park service should have the right and ability to restrict number of groups and participants in tours on the volcano — similar restrictions exist in many activities in many national parks. But local shops are concerned about restrictions hitting non-downhill tours and rentals, and some local authorities are spouting off about keeping bicycle tours from ‘slowing traffic.’
Ought to be interesting to see how this pans out, because the legislation seems almost unnecessary. National parks can restrict entry to tour operators easily enough without local regulation coming into play.