Maui bike tours avoid national park
What ever happened to the bicycle tours down Haleakala on Maui?
Answer: The bicycle tours are continuing, but they are starting below Haleakala National Park.
Downhill bicycle tours in the park were suspended Oct. 10, following a commercial bike tour fatality in September.
Park officials later announced the halt of downhill tours after a panel determined they posed an unacceptably high risk.
Officials are considering allowing interpretive bicycle tours in the park that would not require as much downhill riding.
Chief Ranger Mark Tanaka-Sanders said officials will be developing a commercial services plan to assess the carrying capacity of the park and every commercial type of use.
"It's not directly targeted to bicycle tours," he said.
Meanwhile, several bicycle tour companies have been authorized to conduct sightseeing van tours nearly up to the 10,000-foot summit.
The companies then drive down to their staging area below the park at the 6,500-foot level to begin the downhill bicycle tours.
Phil Feliciano, owner of Cruiser Phil's Volcano Riders, said there was about a 40 percent decrease in customers in May, partially because of the cancellation of bicycle downhill tours through the park.
He said other factors included the decrease in the number of airlines passengers visiting Maui and also a change in his business policy.
Feliciano said he and a number of other bicycle tour operators decided to raise the age requirement for downhill cycling to 15.
He said he decided to raise the minimum age after noticing that 25 percent of those injured on rides were children.
Feliciano said some bicycle tour customers are happy they are not riding from the summit, especially on foggy days.
He said the accident rate has been lower because they are not riding in the national park.
This update was written by Gary T. Kubota. Ever wonder what happened to a person, event or issue that has been in the news? We'll find out for you if you e-mail us at email@example.com
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