Bikers filled the patio of the Falcon Tavern and spilled onto the sidewalk Thursday, July 17 at the Bicycle Law and Safety panel discussion, hosted by Johnson & Monteleone, L.L.P.. The featured authorities, all avid bikers, were:
Thomas J. Lloyd III — Attorney, Johnson & Monteleone, L.L.P
Officer Anthony Dotson — Boise Police Department
Sergeant Clair Walker — Bike Patrol, Boise Police Department
Senator Elliot Werk — Idaho State Senator, District 17
Kristin Armstrong — ‘08 Olympic Gold Medalist, Women’s Time Trial
With the growing number of bicyclist deaths, disharmony between motorists and cyclists took the forefront of the discussion. For Lloyd, the root of this problem lays in an attitude of avarice toward motorists some bikers harbor, and, conversely, a belief that bikes don't belong on roads, held by some motorists.
"It's not black and white. I've been on the road and I've seen us both screw up," said Lloyd.
Furthermore, murky bike laws and conflicting municipal codes complicate the status of bikes on the road. Are bikes vehicles? Citing a letter from a citizen that summed up his position, Sergeant Walker, supervisor of the bicycle patrol unit, read: "bikes are best treated as vehicles, not special needs children."
The law, as Lloyd explained it, defines "vehicle" as a variety of transportation methods, not just automobiles. On this vehicle list are bicycles, horses, mopeds, motorcycles, and, in response to one inquiry, "Falkor from The Never Ending Story", although the law doesn't mention luckdragons specifically.
Lloyd drew enthusiastic applause when he raised the issue that a major concern of bikers is that police are slow to issue citations when a biker is picked off by a driver. In response, Walker explained that the BPD is dedicated to finding exactly the right penalty for the fatalities in question, also drawing an applause.
After telling a story about a man who leaned out of a car and yelled unmentionables at him, Senator Werk gave BW a shoutout on the recent discussion on single-speeds.
"I loved what they said about the single speeds," said Werk. Werk stressed education for the younger generations to create a more bike-friendly future. Biking projects, such as separate biking lanes, need funding, for which Werk proposed using money from biking fines.
"If you violate law, that money goes to safety," said Werk.
Kristin Armstrong, fresh off the plane from Italy, staved off jet lag to share some biking tips. In particular - steer clear of car doors.
"A lot of incidents happen with the door," said Armstrong.
Officer Dotson noted that the five-member bike patrol unit rolls in a geographically small area, mostly downtown and the greenbelt, and cannot police everything. Walker stressed that expanding his team would benefit the safety of the biking community. In the meantime though, Walker urged bikers to be more assertive about reporting incidents. His advice — if you're on the line about whether to call something in, do it. "You need to call the police. We love to respond."