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Bikeboy’s Gentle Communication To ACHD

Frequent contributor “BIKEBOY” and long winded resident bike expert offers expertise on the bike lanes.

Dear ACHD:

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!

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. As I see it there are four categories of commuter bicyclists.
    1. Homeless people
    2. People who had their drivers license suspended due to a DUI.
    3. People who had the drivers license suspended due to not paying their child support.
    4. The obnoxious, self-important stooges who ride along Hill Road, side-by-side, with their Tour de France jersey and stretch shorts, refusing to yield to faster vehicle traffic. (they should be in a category all their own!)

    In my opinion, none of them deserve a special lane!

  2. Good one!
    Simple bike lanes in the open.

    Lots of free parking available in DT garages. And build more bike parking facilities so bikes don’t jam up a sidewalk locking their bike to every tree insight.

    Let’s do it.

  3. 5. Those crazy guys who deliver Jimmy John’s.

  4. Stupid solutions to the stupid problems caused by this stupid idea: End parking well prior to the intersection. Perhaps change the law to cause the bikes to yield to turning cars.

    BB, Thank you for calling out the a-holes in spandex… They are found well beyond Hill Rd. The cops do nothing. The cops even impersonate them while undercover in hopes of inciting drivers.

    Term limits!

  5. Foothills Rider
    May 25, 2014, 12:38 pm

    Always been a supporter of BB, but one point with which to disagree: we can “hate” or be irritated by bad practice and unsafe habits….BB is generally pretty good about distinguishing a bad practice from artificially labeling a “bad group.” I ride Hill Street. I wear the ‘spandex’ kit of my cycling club. I race in races. As an Elite, per BB, I am now a scafflow…he uses one word to define the other. PLEASE be cognizant of defining good/bad based only on looks or types of cyclists. There are homeless poorer folks who ride safely on hand-me-down equipment, and yes, there are elite racers with skills and fancy equipment that don’t ride safely.

    I consider myself safe and respectful, I ride in the bike lane single file (as is “practicable” by code….meaning, I will avoid debris for safety sake, even if it means moving into traffic – looking first). In fact, I will call out a fellow cyclists (of ANY group) when they do stupid things, as it reflects poorly on all cyclists. I am certainly defensive when riding on the road. But I have been side-swiped, yelled at, and passed by a car that immediately turns into the bike lane in front of me to “teach” me some unknown lesson – likely due to that person’s frustration at some incident with some other cyclist.

    Instead of labeling a group as either all good or all bad, focus instead on the bad or good cycling (and driving) behaviors and direct your frustrations or support to the behaviors.

  6. Foothills, I think the biggest problem is the attitudes that permeate both sides. Bikers feel that they have just as much right to the road as drivers, I will not argue that point. I will say that my biggest frustration when getting behind a group of spandex wearing billboards is their inability to keep up with the flow of traffic. Not to mention spandex only looks good on certain body types. This is the same frustration, the speed… not spandex…I feel when driving behind an individual on highway 55 who is traveling 40mph in a 55mph zone. Both should do their best not to hold up traffic flow, unfortunately neither see it as their responsibility. There are a good deal of you elite racers who think that your vulnerability in the face of the hated automobile somehow gives you the right to demand extra protection. I am not sure why this is, but form where I sit it seems to be fact. I would think if you all feel so threatened you would refrain from tempting the scourge auto.

  7. Just love the Tour de Fart Bicyclists who ride on Federal Way next to the Bike Path. Seen several club ride packs doing this every year. They take up an entire lane. There are regulars too. Why don’t the Jerks ride on the bike path?

  8. Foothills Rider made a good point, and I could’ve clarified better. When I referred to the Hill Road “scofflaw elites,” I was obviously referring to those who ride several-abreast, who ride in the “car lane” when the bike lane is unobstructed, etc. The practice of riding a sweet road bike on Hill Road, wearing a spandex “kit” is certainly not in itself a problem. (I see many law-abiding “elite” cyclists on Hill Road… usually as they reel me in and ride on by going 5mph faster.)

    Any time you see a story about bicycling on the streets of Boise, the “feedback” ALWAYS contains numerous complaints about the spandex yahoos who seemingly interfere with motor traffic deliberately. THEY are obviously high-profile, and are obviously fostering considerable ill will.

  9. Last year as my family was making our way to the Stanley Basin for some camping we came on a large group ride that was “resting” at the Floating Feather\Highway 55 intersection, NE side. Some were lounging in the grass, others were straddling their bikes in the westbound lane. I pulled in behind them to make a right hand turn. A green light cycle went by, not a one of them budged. I had to back up, camp trailer and all, after I got out and motioned the people behind me to go around. Still no movement from those in the lane and another light cycle passes. I backed up and made my right turn from the left turn lane. Bikers just yucking it up, not even trying to clear the westbound lane during their rest break. They were all in kits sponsored by some orthopedic group. It took every ounce of my being to not honk, say something because my kids were in the car and didn’t want to set a bad example.

  10. Foothills Rider
    May 30, 2014, 5:27 pm

    Eric,
    A large “group ride” as you describe is likely a recreational club. They are generally registered with SWICA…go here:
    http://www.idahobikeracing.org/ and find the clubs….do what I have done – certainly you have a camera that takes pics, right? Take a pic, find the club name or send/post to SWICA and be an advocate for teaching some newbies. I did this when a club took up a full lane (about 3 to 4 wide), and the lead cyclist did a u-turn into oncoming traffic to “check” on the slower members of the group. Cars in BOTH directions were impacted. I contacted the club. The club president made it a training opportunity at a meeting. Club contacts can be found at USACycling.org.

    Find “Clubs” and click on “Idaho” for listing. That said, people like you, Mike and Rick who generalize are the ones that scare me. Your frustraion over one instance can lead you to bad future behaviors. TODAY: Riding on Floating Feather east. Coming to stop at Ballantyne. Truck next to me (eastbound) slows down too, puts on LEFT hand turn indicator (to go North on Park). I slow to wait for southbound car to cross. BUT, the truck roams purposefully over to the right side in front of me at the stop sign. Makes me swerve into the gravel, blocks any access for me, and then, instead of turning left, stays straight crossing Ballantyne and stays in the right side/gravel (no bike lane) purposely to block any progress by me….and speeds up after I give him the “what the hay?” look. Really? Necessary? Dangerous! So, yes, cyclists need to start wearing their go-cams for these instances, and drivers should take photos of scafflaws too. But everyone needs to stop generalizing either way. Maybe we can start a “shame page” for photo sharing by both sides….

  11. Foothills Rider
    May 30, 2014, 5:29 pm

    …that is “North on Ballantyne” not “Park.”

  12. Bikes and autos don’t mix… they never will. Anything that causes as much problem and injury as this issue has been made illegal… two wheeled traffic on four wheel roads needs to be ended. The same argument used for public smoking can be used. BTW: it has been determined those silly little over-priced foam helmets are useless. And the seats are crushing your manhood too.

  13. “people like you, Mike and Rick who generalize are the ones that scare me.”

    Ya ever stop to think I may be a bicyclist too? You don’t scare me foothill; I – and others – just think your a bit of a jerk.

    I have a hard time expending any effort to correct other peoples bad behavior. Reporting the federal way nit-wits to the police is much easier then reporting them to “Tour de fart” central!

    EDITOR NOTE–Your name calling slipped through. We play nice here, so you ruined it for everyone else. COMMENTS CLOSED!

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