HONOLULU (KHON2) — The struggle to find a rental car is leading to a boom for some alternative modes of transportation. Mopeds are gaining in popularity and the type of customer is changing.
Moped rentals are becoming more and more common. Waikiki Moped and Car owner Robert Whitmarsh said business is phenomenal.
“It’s crazy. We sold out every day. Because of the shortage of rental cars everybody just flocking to the moped business,” Whitmarsh explained.
He said he has purchased more mopeds to keep up with demand.
Loga Hjelseth, managing partner of Cruzin Hawaii mopeds on Kalakaua Avenue, said business has more than doubled since March 2021.
“My friends who live out here all have them,” Carson Mulholland from San Francisco explained. “They said it was the cheapest, easiest way to get around. And the quickest way.”
“The moped seemed like a great option if we can rent one,” Iowa visitor Ashley Davis said. “they’re booked out for the next few days so we’re just going place to place to see what’s available.”
There is also a wider range of customers.
“We have seen some differences, obviously, with so many people that would normally be renting cars,” Hjelseth explained. “Clientele ranges from everyone from an 18-year-old out here maybe with just a friend, to something like a whole family coming out and getting them for the day.”
Safety is key with more mopeds on the road.
Businesses are required to give everyone a safety briefing and a helmet, but Hjelseth said it is ultimately up to the individual to wear it because Hawaii does not have a helmet law.
“Once people get on the road it is kind of up to them,” he explained. “They are adults. They do sign a waiver before they leave saying they will follow all of our rules.”
Customers are also shown how to operate the moped and briefed on where to park. They are also instructed about the rules of the road.
Hjelseth said he has noticed an uptick in parking tickets since rentals increased, even with the briefings.
“If they get a speeding ticket on the road or if they’re doing something they shouldn’t, unless law enforcement or some civilian contacts us and lets us know about it, we don’t find out about those cause they are in their name and they’ll have to settle those tickets.”
According to Honolulu Police Department, there have been 208 moped-involved accidents so far in 2021 compared to 247 in all of 2020 and 342 for 2019.
Five of those accidents were critical compared to six in 2020 and four in 2019. There have been two fatalities to date in 2021, no fatal moped accidents in 2020 and three in all of 2019.
In a statement, HPD said: “The number of moped-involved collisions began to increase in March, possibly due to the return of visitors and the shortage of rental cars. If the statistics increase at the current rate, they will exceed the 2019 stats.”