An interdisciplinary National Park Service analysis team will convene in early December to evaluate information concerning the effect of commercially-guided downhill bicycle tours on public health and safety and the protection of park visitors. This information will involve, at a minimum, submissions made by commercial operators, accident/incident history, and other information collected from and by Federal Highway and other safety professionals. Findings of the team will be presented to a Pacific West Region board of review in February.
Over the past five years, Haleakala National Park rangers have responded to at least 66 and up to 93 incidents per year requiring emergency medical assistance that involved the commercial downhill bike tours within the park. During the last several years, the park has worked with commercial bike tour operators to address these safety issues. For example, the park placed restrictions on the numbers of tours at the summit for sunrise and requires annual safety plans from each operator. However, safety incidents have continued, both in number as well as severity.
On September 26th, a bicyclist guided by a commercial bicycle tour lost control of her bicycle on the downhill run from the Haleakala Crater and was killed when struck by a vehicle operated by another commercial bicycle tour. This was the second commercial bicycle related fatality within the park within the past 12 months. Three other serious injuries also occurred within the same time period. This most recent fatality follows on a long history of safety issues and concerns related to the commercial downhill bike tours.
A safety stand down of commercially guided downhill bicycle tours within the park was ordered, effective October 10th, to maintain public health and safety and to protect park visitors. During this safety stand down, the National Park Service is reviewing these recent fatalities and accidents, as well as other aspects of commercially-guided downhill bicycle tours in the park.
The Service had initially hoped to be able to complete this safety review within this 60 days of ordering the safety stand down, but the sheer volume of information to be analyzed, the holidays, and the complexity of the issues has required the time extension.