If you weren't paying close attention, you may not have noticed that last night, the ACHD Commission unanimously approved the Roadways to Bikeways Master Plan.
(For non-locals, the Ada County Highway District is the organization that builds and maintains the local roads for this, the most populous county in Idaho.)
The Roadways to Bikeways plan "envisions a bicycle network in Ada County that provides a designated bicycle facility within a quarter-mile from 95 percent of the residents in Ada County and its six cities. A bicycle facility could be a roadway that is signed as a bike route, bike lane or other type of improvement."
The map of the plan can be seen HERE. The entire plan can be seen HERE. (It's a 75-page PDF. I downloaded it; haven't read it "cover to cover," but have read the interesting bits. It's a very well-done document that provides much insight into some of the issues that go into infrastructure planning.)
Sounds like a worthwhile but lofty goal. And a quarter-mile is a good benchmark; most people are willing to walk or put up with various "transportation inconveniences" for that short a distance. Well... maybe not MOST people, but a lot of people. (Some people drive to the end of their driveway to pick up the mail, because it's just too much effort to waddle.)
Of course, many lofty plans end up being doorstops for the office, due to changes in priorities and budget shortfalls.
Also, it must be stressed to everyone - SHOUTED FROM THE ROOFTOPS! - that bicycles are not relegated only to those roads that have a "bicycle facility." It should be safe to responsibly operate a bicycle on every public roadway, since it's legal to do so. Cyclists need to know that; motorists need to know that; planners and public officials need to know that. (Who should educate them? All of us!)
The Idaho Statesman said in an editorial (addressing the recent bicycle fatalities in Boise): Bike paths and bike lanes remain vital, but not just for weekend recreation. They are an essential for everyday cycling.
A lot of people, unfortunately, incorrectly believe that bike paths and lanes are essential. That's not going to happen; there's not the money or the space for bike lanes on every road. But having one within a quarter-mile would be very handy for cyclists at all levels.