Bikes vs Car Lanes Remains Undecided

Boise’s City council has passed a resolution asking to make the bike lanes permanent. The ACHD has offered to revisit any decisions at a June 4 meeting. A KBOI radio’s Nate Shelman launched a “no” campaign which triggered a big turnout of bike advocates at the ACHD Wednesday meeting.

We noticed Capitol Blvd. was down to a single lane at 8:30 a.m. Thursday when a delivery truck tractor-trailer rig blocked one of the two lanes near the Grove Hotel. The hotel often blocks lanes, but when the road is restricted to nobly two traffic lanes, gridlock ensues.

A slim majority of those offering comments on the bike lane project were NOT in favor of eliminating some traffic lanes for bikes. Anecdotally, we feel the bike people are more organized than the general motoring public which could skew the results. In a week’s worth of trips down Capitol Blvd. we have seen only two bikes using the system.

Here is the ACHD press release on the project:

A bare majority of the 4,660 people voting in an online survey about the vehicle-lane-for-bike-lane pilot project in downtown Boise favor removing the bicycle facilities, ACHD announced today.

The results vary slightly, but a few more of those expressing their opinions about the buffered bike lanes on Capitol Boulevard and Main and Idaho streets support eliminating the features rather than making them permanent.

ACHD Commissioners will discuss the results Wednesday as they consider whether to extend the pilot project beyond the month of May.

The survey asked how users experienced downtown – by automobile, by bicycle or on foot, and also why they used the roads. They were also asked to rate their experience with the roads during the demonstration and if they wanted bicycle facilities added in the future:

Regarding Capitol, 52.5 percent oppose the permanent installation compared to the 47.5 percent who want the facilities.

Regarding Main, 52.8 percent favored removing bicycle facilities over the 47.2 percent who want them made permanent.

Regarding Idaho, the vote was closer, with 51.5 percent favoring removal, compared to the 48.5 percent who wanted them to remain.

ACHD thanked the public for the record-setting amount of feedback on this project, noting that more than 4,660 surveys have been filled out along with some 500 e-mails. The level of public interest is about 10 times the input the District generally receives on even its biggest projects.

While the survey results are nearly even, the e-mails have run more than two-to-one in opposition.

While public input was important, the survey was never viewed as an up-and-down vote by the ACHD Commission about the pilot project.

Other factors, such as congestion on downtown streets, feedback from area businesses, input from Boise City, as well as the Capital City Development Corporation, the Downtown Boise Association and other partners, will be evaluated before a final decision is made about installing permanent bike lanes.

The Commission will discuss the status of the pilot project at Wednesday’s Commission meeting, hearing a briefing about the public response to date as well as preliminary data about vehicle and bicycle use of the roads. The Commission meeting starts at noon and will be held in the ACHD Auditorium, 3775 Adams St., in Garden City.

Following an open house on the proposal to add buffered bike lanes to Capitol, Main and Idaho in March, some 600 people commented on the plan, with two-thirds in support. The Commission ordered the demonstration before considering any permanent alterations.

The public can continue to weigh in on the demonstration by going to and taking the survey. Citizens can call or e-mail ACHD but the online survey will allow the District to best track and evaluate the public reaction.

More information is available about the project on ACHD’s web site,

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Just the local leaders trying to look good in some lefty magazine article at the expense of the public?

  2. Dave, I’ve never seen evidence that cyclists in these parts are “organized” in any way. However, they might be more internet-savvy as a group than motorists, and maybe more of them felt like they had a vested interest in the bike-lane experiment.

    I’ve ridden every foot of the experimental lanes at least a couple times, and I voted “no” on all three. Here’s why:
    1) If you think they are under-utilized in May, wait ’til January! I’m pragmatic enough to realize that far more people drive cars year ’round… and will during our lifetimes. (Maybe someday when gas is $15/gallon, and global warming results in lows in the 50s in January, it’ll be different! /sarcasm)
    2) I’d much rather ride through either Julia Davis or Ann Morrison Park, than ride up Capitol Boulevard. And when I’m eastbound or westbound, there are already bike lanes on Bannock, a block to the north, and Grove, a block to the south. We’ll never have bike lanes on every road… let’s deal with that reality.
    3) I’m NOT sold on the scheme of putting the bike lane between the sidewalk and car parking. I’ve had several “close encounters” with motorists turning across the bike lane directly into my path. They couldn’t see me because parked cars are blocking the view. (I exchanged emails with an ACHD engineer who pointed out I’m less likely to get hit by a car pulling out of a parking spot. True story! But is it somehow better to be hit by a moving car turning across my path?)

    Wherever bike facilities are provided, I’ll be happy to use ’em! But I’m far from convinced that the experimental configuration is the best use of public pavement.

    EDITOR NOTE–Bikeboy, I stand by the “better organized” theory. How many white cars do you see chained to signposts at the scene of fatal accidents? The bikers CARE and they turn out for memorial rides, etc.

  3. Bikeboy nailed it…and this is from a guy who actually bikes…not just one that responds to surveys.

    I did get a call from a “bike” person who asked that I go on line and vote YES even though I do not bike. They wanted to fill the ballot box.

    While they may not be organized they have done what they can to pad the ballot.

  4. Foothills Rider
    May 19, 2014, 9:11 pm

    I agree with bikeboy. Some of the forced paths and turns are more dangerous than simply riding with traffic with no bike concessions. Propose that instead of $$$$ for “building and they will come” with bicycle lanes that don’t make much sense in many areas, $$$$ could be better spent on workshops etc to educate commuters and potential/new cyclists on safe riding strategies. What has been tried here creates a false sense of safety, while actually creating more dangerous situations especiallly at intersections and with bike lanes outside parked car door zones. Adding to the danger – frustrated drivers.

  5. I was interested in Bike Boy’s email exchange with an engineer at ACHD. It’s been my experience that they are pretty responsive to questions and serious comments. Certainly more than other agencies and media. ITD and the County are hit or miss (many more misses than hits). TV stations almost never respond to any sort of criticism. Maybe they are better if the message is all sunshine and sweetness. The Statesman is great. Their reporters almost always respond.

  6. Cyclists organized? Maybe not. More apt to give input? Obviously.

    But what ACHD doesn’t tell us is if they’re filtering submissions from identical IP addresses.

    I’m guessing that most cyclists are aged 20 to 35 and more likely to be tech savvy. That is they know they can clear their cookies or use multiple browsers or proxy servers to enter the survey more than once. I’m guessing many of them have multiple email addresses and multiple internet capable devices, like a work computer, home computer, and cellular smart phone all with different IP addresses. There would be no way to tell if there’s vote brigading.

    What about less tech savvy users (older husband and wife) in a single household with a single IP address. It wouldn’t be fair to exclude those legitimate results.

    Danger factor:

    Drivers making lefts off of Main is definitely a more dangerous situation than before. A row of parked SUVs or even cars blocks the view of drivers from seeing cyclists in the bike lane. This makes a left hook very likely. It makes pedestrians less safe. I find myself looking right for light runners, then over my shoulder to the left for cyclists and the last thing I look for is a pedestrian in the crosswalk. But I’m in a hurry to cross the crosswalk because I don’t want a cyclist broadsiding me while I’m turning left.

    In fact this is absurd. It is patently illegal to make a left or right from other than the left most or right most travel lane unless stripped as a multiple turn lane. To have turning traffic cross over thru traffic defies logic and it defies common sense.


    I drive Main everyday. I count the cars and cyclists. Moving cars far outnumber moving cyclists. 20 to 1 or more. It’s probably 100 to 1.


    Given the constraints of history and topography motorists will never have a new road punched through downtown. The bike lanes are a shoehorning hatchet job. Cyclists and motorists and going to have to settle for something that’s less than perfect.

    Grove and Bannock are good enough. Remove the wooden planks and pave the 8th Street trestle.

  7. Let me add this:

    Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

  8. I second Bikeboys comments.
    I live in East Boise and Work in ‘west Downtown’.

    When I drive to work I drive Main and Idaho. When I bike to work/or anywhere westward I do not use Main or Idaho. I still do not.

    Bikeboy, I hope you can make it to the ACHD meeting to testify.

  9. I’ve tested all the test lanes several times at different times of the day. It’s more comfortable to have a “place where I belong” on the road. But…I was left-hooked several times on Main and saw one driver who held back to let me pass honked at by the one following. Driver non-understanding/resistance to this change is huge and potentially lethal. I agree with Bikeboy’s comments about underutilization of the space allocated. At this time in Boise, cyclists and motorists might be better served by requiring adherence to “take the lane” and “three feet to pass” rules for cyclists in traffic. That would return whole lanes to drivers in exchange for allowing and aiding safe passage of the occasional cyclist. And if whole groups of cyclists end up taking whole lanes for whole blocks, it’s the same result as having a dedicated lane…..for that group and few minutes.

  10. The bike lanes downtown are a done deal. Doesn’t matter what the majority of people think. Feel sorry for what is going to happen to the merchants.

  11. After attending the ACHD meeting today I’ll be surprised if the bike lane test continues beyond the June 4 date of the next ACHD meeting. A few commenters testified directly or alluded to the fact that the bike lanes convert some 25%-33% of the road to benefit no more than 6% of the users. As one who uses and enjoys the bike lanes, I have to yield to that compelling economic argument against them. If there was a chance that Boiseans might convert in droves and flood the bike lanes at 10x the current rate; different story. I’d love to see that happen but don’t see it as a possiblilty right now. If that happens…even in the absence of dedicated bike lanes, the population pressure of those hundreds of cyclists on the road will accomplish what the bike lanes are attempting: to force motorists to provide space for safe passage of cyclists.

  12. I frequently bike downtown, and while I appreciate the bike lanes, I voted for their removal, my biggest issue is how ugly it makes the streetscape. It looks like a permanent construction zone.

  13. JJ, I agree, I think the intent would be to make some improvements on the appearance, i.e. using a curb instead of candles,
    I would rather see the money spent on other infrastucture such another bike parking area-monitored and completing other bike lanes in Ada County.

    The #1 factor should be safety for cyclists, pedestrians, & even motorists.

    I thought is was telling at yesterday’s meeting 4 of the 5 commissioners had not biked in the lanes yet. Rebecca Arnold said she intentionally avoids those streets now.

    It does seem the Commissioners are reading the ACHD website input function of TELLUS as they call it.

  14. I think some kinda of cycling infrastructure is needed. I think these buffered lanes could work with some tweaks, mostly at the left turns on Main and right turns on Idaho & Capitol.

    I find it interesting that we are getting almost daily updates on the survey and comments. I have never seen survey results and comments released before a final decision is made in a government agency. It is almost like they are are trying to skew the results one way or another.

    EDITOR NOTE–Clancy, I agree. Who would have thought bikes would come down to being a political issue…and I would venture, generational. i.e. “Old conservatives don’t like bike lanes, young progressives want to get rid of cars.”

Get the Guardian by email

Enter your email address: