Biking 411 

From laws to events, be in the know when it comes to biking in Boise

Pedal for the People

Boise Bicycle Project has nothing against Boise Bike Week. Heck, BBP is a part of the celebration. But from Friday, June 10, to Saturday, June 25, it's kicking off its capital campaign to buy the BBP HQ by staging its own bike festival: Pedal for the People.

"It's different than Boise Bike Week," said BBP shop manager Amanda Anderson. "We're not in it to compete with them."

How is it different? For one, anyone can create and submit their own events to the calendar without paying a sponsorship fee. For two, events do not have to be family friendly. BBP is even hoping someone out there will have, ahem, the balls to organize a Boise staging of the world naked bike ride, though they're hesitant to be the ones to do so.

Anderson also feels the two-week time span will give people more opportunity to get involved.

This is the same format used for the successful Pedalpalooza festival in Portland, Ore.

Events already listed as part of Pedal for the People include the Helladrome bicycle race and pie contest, a velocaching summit, a bike polo tournament, a bike-in movie and a Franken48! contest, in which competitors have 48 hours to build a Frankenbike.

Like Boise Bike Week, the festival will conclude with a block party on Eighth Street, featuring live music, beer and food.

Events can be submitted to the calendar via boisebicycleproject.org, where BBP staff ensure the events are in fact bike-related and legal, then post them to the calendar, along with a rating of what ages are appropriate.

"We're pretty open to everything," Anderson said.

And even though it's less than a month after Boise Bike Week, Anderson thinks people will jump on board.

"It's Boise," she said. "People love their bikes."

--Josh Gross

Boise's Bike Laws

Back in early 2010, the City of Boise enacted a series of new laws aimed at cutting down the number of bike-vehicle accidents after three cyclists were killed during the summer of 2009. But have those laws actually made a difference?

The answer is a definitive maybe.

As adopted by the Boise City Council, vehicles must give three feet of clearance to bikes when passing; bikers can use any lane as long as they are going with the flow of traffic; bikers can only ride on the sidewalk when it's safe, must give an audible warning to pedestrians and can't dodge into traffic; and any form of harassment of bikers is illegal.

According to the Boise Police Department, bicycle accidents were down by 9.6 percent last year compared to 2009, as was the number of citations written to bicyclists (79 compared to 134 in 2009). But the raw numbers don't tell the whole story.

Lynn Hightower, spokesperson for BPD said the department began tracking more bike incidents in 2009, which means the number of citations in the last two years is higher than in prior years.

According to department statistics, of the 79 total citations in 2010, 22 were issued for failure to have a light and a reflector while riding at night, an additional 17 were for not having required bicycle equipment, and 11 were for failure to exercise due care (or reckless biking). Another handful of citations were written for failing to stop, incorrect position on the highway, riding against traffic and failing to yield a sidewalk to pedestrians.

The good news is that there were no fatal bike-vehicle accidents in 2010, and the number of incapacitating injury and possible-injury accidents declined as well (from 18 to 16 and from 62 to 46, respectfully). But, the number of non-incapacitating injury accidents increased from 62 to 65, while property damage accidents increased from one in 2009 to five last year. Overall though, total bicycle accidents declined from 146 to 132 in 2010.

While the results are mixed, it's still best to mind your Ps and Qs on the road, regardless of what you're driving.

--Deanna Darr

Boise State Gets Strict on Wheels

Boise State's recently enacted policy No. 9010--the verbosely titled "Pedestrian and Non-Motorized Wheeled-Transport Safety Policy--is not what some call bike-friendly.

The policy demands a "wheels down" zone throughout large areas of the Quad on campus from 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Bikers are now met with large signs positioned across campus that gently prod them to dismount, stating that the area is a "pedestrian-priority" zone. Rebel cyclists who choose to ignore the policy risk citations and other disciplinary action, including bike impoundment.

The idea to make Boise State's campus a wheels-down zone isn't new. It has been kicked around since 2005. So while it may not be a surprise, it is an ironic change considering Boise State was, earlier this month, recognized by the League of American Bicyclists for "creating exceptional environments where bicycling can thrive."

Even President Bob Kustra remarked on the award: "[Considering] our efforts to promote and support alternative transportation, Boise State is proud to be among those setting an example for the future," he said.

Some argue that this new policy does just the opposite. A recent poll from campus paper The Arbiter revealed that 50 percent of students think the idea "sucks," while 17 percent of poll-takers said, "I'm riding my bike/longboard/skateboard anyway." Let the debate begin.

--Jordan Wilson

To read more about bike touring, click here.

To read more about how to tour on a bike, click here.

To read more about Boise's cruiser culture, click here.

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