Thursday, August 21, 2014

City Club Forum on Bike Lanes: Stakeholders, Non-Invitees and Horses

Posted By on Thu, Aug 21, 2014 at 9:43 AM

An Aug. 20 forum of the City Club of Boise was well attended—a Grove Hotel ballroom was packed. But the event, where the main topic would be Boise bike lanes, was also conspicuous for who wasn't invited to participate: the city of Boise and the Ada County Highway District.

Moderator Marty Peterson told attendees that City Club didn't want to have "people debating about issues that would probably cross over into parking meters and that sort of thing." Peterson quickly added that representatives of the city and highway district were indeed somewhere in ballroom to talk to anyone, but failed to mention who or where they were.

"A number of realities to consider: the first being that ACHD and the city of Boise are barely on speaking terms," said Peterson as he introduced the forum's guests: Lisa Brady, president of the Treasure Valley Cycling Alliance; Karen Sander, executive director of the Downtown Boise Association; and Dr. Jim Weatherby, professor emeritus and former director of the Boise State University Public Policy Center.

Unfortunately, much of the slow-paced 90 minutes covered no new ground for anyone even remotely up-to-date on the issue of how, where or why dedicated bike lanes should be a part of Boise's downtown core.

"How many of you got a bicycle as a gift when you were a child?" asked Brady. And, as expected, nearly every hand in the ballroom went into the air.

But then Brady asked a more telling question: "How many of you rode here today?" You could count the hands on your fingers and toes. 

Through the course of the midday dialogue, Brady and Sander, both members of an ACHD stakeholders committee, extolled the virtues of why the city needs bike lanes and agreed that educating the public on proper lane usage and Idaho's unique traffic laws. Interestingly enough though, Brady expressed  befuddlement surrounding a recent session of the stakeholders, where committee members were told, and not asked, which bike lane recommendations would be offered to ACHD commissioners. 

But ultimately, no new ground was traversed at the City Club event; and Peterson wrapped with a bizarre note by encouraging attendees to continue following the issue on the blog of a reporter for Idaho Education News. IEN's Kevin Richert was live-   tweeting through the event in his capacity as a City Club board member.

"I got a horse when I was a child," deadpanned Weatherby.

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