A safety stand-down was ordered on Wednesday for all commercially-guided downhill bike tours following several fatalities and serious accidents. The stand-down, which goes into effect on October 10th, will affect the seven companies that hold commercial use authorizations (CUAs) to operate within the park. These authorizations will be terminated, also effective on October 10th.
âWith three fatalities and several serious accidents within a year, it is important to stop and critically analyze this commercial activity in the park,â said superintendent Marilyn Parris.
The safety stand-down is scheduled for a minimum of 60 days or until such time as the park can analyze available data and information and make a determination as to whether or not downhill bicycle tours can safely operate under CUAs in the future. In addition, all CUAs for commercially guided bicycle tours which were due to expire on December 31st have been terminated. Operators will have 30 days to provide input for the parkâs analysis. Reviews will occur at the park, regional and national levels.
A letter will be sent to each permit holder explaining the details of the safety stand-down and the review process. Each of the operators will have a week to cease operations within the park.
âProviding for the health and safety of our visitors is a core function of the National Park Service,â said Parris. âWe need to determine that we can meet this safety standard for the 90,000 commercial downhill bicycle riders per year within the boundaries of this park.â
On September 26th, a 65-year-old woman was killed on a commercial guided downhill tour when she lost control of her bicycle while traveling downhill from the 10,000 foot summit. She crossed the double yellow line on a curve and was struck by an up-bound van operated by another commercial bike tour operator. The park closed the road for over two hours. This marked the third fatality within a year involving guided commercial downhill bicycle tours.
âAdministratively, we are doing all we can,â said chief ranger Mark Tanaka Sanders. âThere are safety plans, permit requirements, and rider orientations for all the companies, but the last three accidents were under good driving conditions and happened after the riders had completed many of the downhill miles. The park responds to at least four to eight accidents a month involving bicycles and are often asked to respond outside the park by local authorities as a first response to serious bike accidents.
âThis is very serious with many implications; we do not take this lightly,â said Parris. âThe National Park Service has no prudent alternative but to stop downhill bike tours in Haleakala National Park and conduct this review.â