By JIM KERNS
Deputy Chief, Boise PD
The tragic deaths of 3 cyclists this last spring led to a call to action for the citizens of Boise to become more aware of the bike riding public. It seems that there are many polarized attitudes regarding bike riders on public streets. If you read the blogs, there are many people that feel as if the bike riding community does not belong on the city streets. They should be relegated to the bike lanes, greenbelt, and foothills. There are equally strong feelings from the Biking community about sharing the roadways, providing a safe passageway, and providing equality in roadway sharing.
The fact is that bikes and cars will share the same roadways, always. It is important for both sides of this discussion to realize this fact. Motorists need to become more aware of bike riders, provide for a safe riding corridor, and allow bikes the same courtesies that other vehicles are allowed and given.
Cyclists should remember that they are at a distinct safety disadvantage while they are on the roadways. They need to be conscientious, responsible, and safe while riding their bikes on public roadways. There are over 3000 traffic crashes each year involving two or more motor vehicles. Most of these crashes result in no injury or minor injuries to those involved. However, bike/ motor vehicle crashes almost always lead to some type of injury to the bicyclist. It is for this reason that bike riders should be most vigilant in their safety procedures.
The Boise Police Department realizes that things that don’t get counted don’t get done. Due to the tragic deaths in May 2009, the BPD took a strong look at the 3 E’s of problem-solving. The department increased the enforcement of bike ordinances in 2009. There was over a 100% increase in bike citations from 2008 to 2009.
In addition to enforcement, education was a major focus this year. Our Mountain Bike Unit provided bike education to over 29 area schools, civic groups and City Recreation classes. They provided in-house bike rule education to all patrol officers, and they also attended several public forums on bike safety issues that were sponsored by the biking community. Additionally, the officers of BPD made a very concerted effort to stop and educate bike riders throughout the spring, summer and fall. The Boise Police Chief put out an advisory to all officers to take a vigilant attitude towards bike violations. Anecdotally, there were literally hundreds of contacts made by our bike officers, SRO officers, and patrol officers to warn and educate the public.
The final E represents engineering. BPD is working with ACHD to ensure that roadway design is adequate for the biking public. Areas of concern are addressed at monthly meetings with ACHD. Additionally, a member of the Mountain bike Unit is assigned to the ACHD bike safety task force. This group meets monthly to discuss strictly bike safety issues.
The safety of our citizens is very important to the Boise PD and we will continually strive to make Boise “The most liveable city in the Country”.
To insure more advertising-free Boise Guardian news, please consider financial support.