This writer lives on the Bench, and my bike commute to Boise Weekly
headquarters at 523 Broad St. typically takes me east along the Greenbelt and north along Capitol Boulevard. After cutting through The Flicks parking lot, I then cross Myrtle Street and walk my bike north on the sidewalk along Sixth Street. This winding route is informed by convenience and safety concerns, since cyclists like me occupy an ambiguous position on busy thoroughfares like Capitol and can be difficult for motorists to see.
My commute changed today: I was able to ride along Capitol, across Myrtle, and make a right turn on Broad, shaving a few moments off my ride. That's because of a new bicycle lane on Capitol that is wider, buffered and clearly marked with green paint. In addition to the lane, so-called "bike boxes"—extensions of the bike lane that place turning cyclists ahead of traffic at major intersections—have been added to Capitol, as well as Main and Idaho streets. Each new bike lane removes one existing vehicle lane.
Bike boxes have been used in Portland, Ore., Chicago and New York City as a way to reduce car vs. bike accidents. Putting cyclists in front of cars at intersections gives them greater visibility where turning cars and direction changes can create hazards.
These cyclist-friendly changes are part of an Ada County Highway District pilot program
kicking off Thursday, May 1. For at least a month, ACHD will be monitoring bike traffic along these roads to determine their popularity and effectiveness, but the public is also encouraged to participate in an online survey to provide it with more information here