By STEVE HULME, BIKEBOY
With last summer’s three fatalities still painfully in mind, bicycle enthusiasts turned out to testify at Boise City Council’s Tuesday meeting in favor of bike laws aimed at increasing safety.
City Council considered – and passed with minor but significant amendments – some new laws recommended by the mayor’s Cycling Safety Task Force. I like to think we all recognize the value of having a “bike friendly community.” (At the “bronze” level… but hey, it’s better than nuttin’!) And that all of us are dismayed when we hear of tragic accidents resulting in cyclist injuries or fatalities.
– It’s a misdemeanor to throw or “expel” stuff at cyclists or pedestrians, or to threaten or harass them.
– Cyclists have to get off and walk, on crowded sidewalks.
– Cyclists can now be charged with misdemeanor “reckless cycling.”
– Motorists must leave a safety buffer of at least three feet when passing a cyclist.
Essentially all of the testimony generally favored the new laws. The last lady to testify was the exception. She told some harrowing tales of near-misses with irresponsible sidewalk-riding cyclists, and wanted mandatory registration of bicycles and mandatory display of a registration number, so citizens could better identify the scofflaws when complaining. (I’m sympathetic – bad cyclists are the very worst thing for the responsible cycling community!)
I testified that it’s meaningless to pass new laws, if there’s little enthusiasm about enforcing those laws. (In the past, the stated position of the Boise Police Department has been, “Bicycle violations are not a priority.” I’ve not seen anything to indicate that position has changed.) I told the Council members they could do more to make cycling safer by enforcing existing laws. (But I can also support the newly-passed laws.)
Councilors Shealy and Eberle both stated, “we can’t legislate respect and courtesy.” I hope respect and courtesy can nonetheless be maintained, for everyone’s safety and sanity.
The Task Force also recommended stepped up enforcement and education. If I were in charge, those would be my areas of emphasis.
EDITOR NOTE–The GUARDIAN has long been an advocate of bike licensing to aid in the recovery and return of stolen bikes. With bikes now costing as much as used cars, it is silly to just sell abandoned bikes at auction–or junk them. Most bikes are not really stolen, they are “borrowed” and left abandoned for the next thief.
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