By Tommy Noyes

Pat White celebrated her 75th birthday by completing this hilly 35-mile bicycle ride from Kalapaki to Koloa, up Omao Road and back to Kalapaki. She’s still going strong.

A recent medical study asserts people who ride bicycles prolong their strength and significantly increase their resistance to diseases and frailty as they age.

Professor Janet Lord, director of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom is quoted in a March 8 post by The Guardian, a British daily newspaper. According to Lord, “Hippocrates in 400BC said that exercise is man’s best medicine, but his message has been lost over time and we are an increasingly sedentary society. However, importantly, our findings debunk the assumption that ageing automatically makes us more frail. Our research means we now have strong evidence that encouraging people to commit to regular exercise throughout their lives is a viable solution to the problem that we are living longer but not healthier.”

The Guardian’s article described the study as follows: “Scientists carried out tests on 125 amateur cyclists aged 55 to 79 and compared them with healthy adults from a wide age group who did not exercise regularly. The findings, outlined in two papers in the journal Aging Cell, showed that the cyclists preserved muscle mass and strength with age while maintaining stable levels of body fat and cholesterol. In men, testosterone levels remained high. More surprisingly, the anti-ageing effects of cycling appeared to extend to the immune system.”

The article continues with additional encouraging details, and I would be happy to forward a PDF of The Guardian’s article to anyone requesting it from me; just e-mail a note to

Our current county government should be recognized for pulling in some awesome community transformation projects recently. One example is the Kawaihau Elevated Boardwalk in Kapa‘a, which was built last summer by military reservists through the Innovative Readiness Training program coordinated by Public Works. Another example is the pending $13 million in federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) and $2 million in county funds that will be going into transforming Lihu‘e’s Rice Street district.

And the private sector is stepping up, too. Hokuala Kaua‘i, a Timbers Resort, has opened miles of cart paths for public access meandering through their dormant golf course south of Lihu‘e Airport.

The above referenced medical study validates the urgency of continuing to make this island’s streets, roads and communities more bicycle-friendly for people of all ages. While we now observe people benefitting from the pleasant environment of the Eastside’s Ke Ala Hele Makalae from Lydgate Park and through Kapa‘a up to Kealia, there are so many other neighborhood streets around Kaua‘i that have great potential to attract large numbers of people for recreational walking, bicycling, jogging and running.

Plans are in progress to reconfigure Po‘ipu Road from the roundabout near Kuku‘iula Shopping Center to the Grand Hyatt, and to connect Waimea to Kekaha with a multi-use path.

Keep in mind when you elect our next batch of leaders that political will is the key to building these much-needed and ambitious projects in the near term.

  • Tommy Noyes is Kaua‘i Path’s executive director, a League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructor and active with the Kaua‘i Medical Reserve Corps.