Thursday, October 2, 2014

Boise Bike Boosts

A couple developments in Boise could result in more bicycles on the road in the not-too-distant future.

A stretch of Capitol Boulevard is set to get upgraded bike lanes within the next few weeks, in conjunction with a resurfacing project.

For those not familiar, the street is prominent in downtown Boise, running between the Boise Depot on the south and the Statehouse on the north.  It is bordered by Boise State University and Julia Davis Park on one side, and Ann Morrison Park is nearby on the other side.

Some "intrigue" has been added to the project, because the City of Boise and ACHD (the roadway government entity in the county) have had a political "pissing match" (pardon my French!) about the details.  In the latest round, the city has wanted the traffic lanes to be 10 feet wide, while ACHD has insisted on 11-foot lanes.  Rational people would say, "Let's compromise and make them, uh... um... ten-and-a-half feet wide."  But that would be way too simple for our elected public servants and their paid experts.  ACHD will likely prevail, since they own the tape measures and painting trucks.  According to the latest update on the Statesman website, there will be a  "bike lane ranging between 4 and 6 feet wide running along the east side of Capitol. A painted buffer between 18 and 42 inches wide will separate the bike lane from car traffic."

Read more here:

How wide does a traffic lane have to be?  Based on my experience... the wider the better!  Some of those guys in their F350 Super Duty Turbo Dually pickups can occupy the full lane and seem to get flustered because they can't occupy ALL the lanes!

And in another "big city" development, the Boise Bike Share has become something you can actually touch!

The administrators were hoping to have it up and functioning in 2014.  But unfortunately, '14 is flying by, and now it looks like 2015 might be realistic.  However, they have a sample bike (!), and the Boise Weekly people took a ride on it.  Story HERE.

There's a photo of the bike.  It's bright green and has a "utility bike" look about it.  It appears to have an electronic bike share device on a rear rack, and also appears to have a drive shaft instead of a chain.  I suspect that's intended to lower the maintenance requirements... ?  A shaft is considerably less efficient than a chain for transmitting power to the back wheel... but on a bike that will be primarily used for low-speed travel over relatively flat and smooth surfaces, that probably won't be a major issue.

The story says they will be introducing the "principal sponsor" very soon.  I'm looking forward to that; my main reservation with the program has been the implication that it will be another taxpayer-funded perk that our kids' grandkids are expected to pay for someday.

Also, the story lists the "stations" where the bikes will primarily be parked:
  • City Hall Plaza: 15 racks
  • Old Borah Post Office: 15 racks
  • Boise Centre: 15 racks
  • YMCA: 10 racks
  • Idaho Power: 10 racks
  • Boise State University Interactive Learning Center: 15 racks
  • Boise State University Student Union Building: 15 racks
  • Water Center: 10 racks
  • Ada County Courthouse: 10 racks
  • Boise Co-Op: 10 racks
  • St. Luke's Campus: 15 racks
  • Library!: 10 racks
  • State Office Complex: 10 racks
  • BoDo: 10 racks

  • They're all fairly close-in... maybe if the program is a winner, they'll expand it to more destinations.  (And if I understand correctly, a GPS locator device on each bike will enable the user to leave it at a destination other than one of the "stations."  I'm waiting to see how that works; obviously it will require a staffer who can retrieve the bike at some point and return it to a station.  In my mind's eye, it seems a little haphazard and chaotic, but maybe the reality will be poetry in motion.)

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