Frequent contributor “BIKEBOY” and long winded resident bike expert offers expertise on the bike lanes.
I’m writing to share some observations about the “bike lane experiment” in downtown Boise. (I completed the online survey as well, but it didn’t allow for any details.)
I’ve now ridden my bicycle along every inch of the temporary bike lanes, at least a couple times. Plus – I’m a 29-year veteran transportation cyclist, riding year round and working in downtown Boise. So I feel like I’m qualified to comment AND sympathetic to the bicyclist point of view.
First comment: I commend ACHD for your ongoing and obvious desire to make Boise’s and the county’s roads bicycle-friendly. I think overall you do a great job.
Regarding the experimental bike lanes…
First of all, they seem considerably wider than they need to be, to accommodate single-file cyclists. Perhaps when the roads are re-striped, a 4-foot lane could be squeezed in without stealing a traffic lane. (?)
Second, I have mixed feelings about the car-parking scheme, in the places where the bike lane is in between the sidewalk and the parked cars. It definitely distances cyclists from moving heavy traffic. And it probably is effective in reducing “door zone” incidents (car door opening into the path of an oncoming cyclist). But it has resulted in worse visibility. Just yesterday, May 14, I was riding eastbound on Main Street, and had two “near miss encounters” with cars that were turning left/north across my path. I was watching, and put on my brakes in time to avoid a collision. But in both cases my presence at the intersection took the motorist by complete surprise. Visibility is of utmost importance for cyclist survival, and because of that I don’t believe that the “parking buffer” is the way to go, at least in its experimental configuration.
Third, I’m not sold on the green “bike boxes.” I’ve seen them painted on the street – but I was baffled by them. This morning I visited your website and read about how they are intended to be used… and now it makes more sense to me. BUT – they are not intuitive and without “education,” I think they are likely to not be effectively used by casual cyclists.
It seems to me… there are three basic types of transportation cyclists.
The first group is the everyday/experienced type… I’m one of those. Wherever a dedicated bike infrastructure is provided, I will gladly use it, but I’m comfortable mingling with traffic… and I’ve done it enough that I rarely have any problem. I know traffic laws and try to follow them. I ride predictably, visibly, and defensively.
The second group is the “casual” cyclist, who rides now and then, but isn’t really comfortable in traffic. They are the ones you are primarily focused on, with infrastructure… because they’ll just leave the bike in the garage if they don’t have a bike lane. This group also includes families, kids, incompetents, etc. (I’m pretty sure a lot of these people will slowly evolve into the first type, if they gain experience and get comfortable. And that’s a good thing because another reality is… there will NEVER be bike lanes on every street.)
The third group is the “scofflaw” cyclist – the “elites” who ride along Hill Road and think they are too “special” to have to follow traffic laws, etc. It also includes the poorly-educated cyclists who ride against traffic, at night without lights, etc. It also includes the no-hands-on-bars / earphones / handheld-gizmo-in-one-hand IDIOTS who ride along obliviously, as though they have an invisible force field, and expect everybody else on the road to compensate for their incompetence and poor behavior. As far as I’m concerned, you don’t need to do ANYTHING for this group. (Although I wish law enforcement were more vigorous!)
I was enthused when I saw that Boise is #4 among cities in workers riding bikes to work, at 3.7% (US Census). That’s totally amazing and awesome! But we can and should do even better! We have better climate than Portland, Minneapolis, or Madison. And Boise is relatively flat. Let’s move up a couple more notches, over the next 10 years or so!
Thanks for allowing a citizen/cyclist to comment!
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