Friday, May 18, 2007

Wrong-way bike rider follow-up

Earlier this month, I recounted a particularly uncomfortable near-miss I had with an against-traffic cyclist on the Emerald St. Overpass. (Click HERE to review.) I called the Mayor's voice-mail hotline to complain about non-enforcement.

There have been some developments.

My call to the hotline was transcribed... and the Boise Guardian posted it online, as follows:

Bike Etiquette: The reason I am calling is to express some concern, as I have done before, about un-enforced bicycle laws. In fact, the last time I complained I got a call from the Chief of Police in response, saying that it would be better. I’m certainly not seeing any better behavior on the part of the cyclists. Specifically, I’m calling to complain about bicyclists who ride against traffic, and I believe that I will call every time after I have a near miss with somebody. Today, I was riding east bound on Emerald St. very near the overpass where there’s barely enough bike lane to even operate in, and here comes some bozo flying down from the overpass headed westbound, and right in my lane there’s absolutely no place for me to go. It’s just a very, very, very uncomfortable situation for this bicyclist citizen. I wish something would be done, and I would just like you people to be on notice that since I’ve called about this so many times, and the law obviously isn’t being enforced, if I ever have an accident that is caused by an against-traffic bicyclist that runs into me head on, I certainly will make my legal advisor aware that Boise has a long record of not enforcing that law that is on the books. I’m very serious about this and I wish you folks would get serious about it too, particularly Mayor Bieter who claims to be a cyclist. Thank you very much.

(Please bear in mind that I was working without a script... I didn't prepare the message and then phone it in.)

I thought it was interesting (?) that the transcriber assigned it to "bike etiquette." If I called to complain about people constantly driving down the street the wrong way, would they assign it to "car etiquette"? I believe that in itself illustrates that they don't take the problem very seriously.

However, I feel better that it has been noted in the "official record."

And then today I got a call from a Boise Police officer. I didn't catch his name, but he said he's a sargent on the Bike Patrol.

It was mostly "the usual" - he expressed sympathy, and told me that due to constant shortages of manpower, they have to prioritize violations, and bike-head-on-collisions apparently aren't high priority. (Bikes are toys, not transportation, in the minds of most bureaucrats, including bike patrolmen.)

He offered a suggestion. (And I might just try it sometime.) He said if I feel so inclined, I could call dispatch (377-6790) at the time of an observed violation, and then follow the scofflaw until a police officer arrives... who would issue a citation, with me as the complainant.

Of course, that creates further hazards. I'd have to change directions safely to pursue, and call on my cell phone, and then keep the dispatcher on the line as I ride along, until help gets there. (And then, no doubt I'd have to go to court. And unless the cop saw the violation in progress, it would probably be a matter of "he-said vs. he-said." And if I prevailed, the perp would probably get sympathy from the "bikes are toys" judge, and a $5 fine.)

I guess we'll see what develops. Stay tuned.

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