Friday, March 14, 2014

More bike lanes in downtown Boise?

ACHD (which builds and maintains roads in these parts) is proposing new bike lanes on several major downtown roads, at the expense of motor vehicle lanes.  They are asking the general public to weigh in.

I wasn't able to attend their Open House, but I submitted the following comments via email:


I'm a 29-year veteran transportation cyclist here in Boise... bicycle has been my primary year-round mode of local transportation since 1986.  And I've worked downtown, and bike-commuted via downtown streets, for the last 19+ years.  So, I've got a little experience.

I'm somewhat ambivalent about your proposal to add bike lanes to several downtown roads.

On the one (personal/selfish) hand, I'm rarely uncomfortable using the existing infrastructure.  There are several north-south streets with bike lanes, as well as Bannock and Grove.  I can navigate pretty close to 'most any destination without too much sharing-of-lanes-with-cars.  And, I share lanes with cars enough that I'm not uncomfortable with that, either, at 20mph speeds in particular.

On the other hand, it's a FACT that a lot of people would ride bikes more, as transportation, if it weren't for the "fear factor."  Safe or not, sharing a lane with cars is PERCEIVED as being unsafe by people who don't do it regularly.  And more people on bikes is good for the community!  If 50 more people are riding bikes downtown, probably at least 30 cars are NOT on the roads that day!  They're saving money that they can spend at downtown merchants.  They are NOT spewing pollution into our inverted atmosphere.  And the city "happiness quotient" goes up!  THAT has to be worth something, huh?


I know I'd be much more inclined to bring my 7-year-old granddaughter downtown on the bikes, if I was confident we could use bike lanes for the duration.

So, in balance I suppose I'm in favor of more bike lanes downtown, and believe it would be the right thing to do.

As more and more people straddle bikes, I sure wish there were some organized educational effort.  Mostly it's free-for-all.  I was dismayed this morning at the number of cyclists I saw riding nonchalantly along (downtown) roads, against traffic!  This is the time of year when the "amateurs" start dusting off their bikes after a long winter's nap, and showing up on the roads.  But unless they crash it's highly unlikely they'll be officially corrected in any way, and I've grown weary of trying to be the teacher.

Thanks for the opportunity to comment.

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