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How to get around the Treasure Valley sans car

Stuck in the City of Trees without a car? Although you'll find getting around Boise without a set of wheels can be a pain--especially if you're not acquainted with the area--you're not completely out of luck.

Start with ValleyRide, the local bus system managed by the area's Valley Regional Transit. Options include high-speed routes from the hinterlands to downtown, and shorter trips from Boise areas of interest, including Parkcenter, Hyde Park, the airport and elsewhere. You can also find park and ride locations across the Treasure Valley. Pick up a pamphlet or navigate to the ValleyRide website at valleyride.org to find a current list of routes, complete with a map for easy use.

In the winter, Valley Regional Transit offers a rideshare to Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area that whisks skiers and snowboarders to the slopes. Note that buses don't run much later than sundown Monday through Saturday and don't run at all on Sundays, so plan ahead.

On the front of every ValleyRide bus are two bike racks, an easy option for cyclists looking to supplement their bus trips.

Some riders give up fossil fuels entirely, commuting solely by bike to work and play. Cycling is Boise's most accessible mode of alternative transportation, with the city boasting a much more comprehensive infrastructure than in other parts of the state, much of which is accessible even to novice riders.

The Boise River Greenbelt is a natural choice, offering a direct, car-free route running east to west, with stretches in Eagle, Garden City and Boise. Hill Road is another popular ribbon frequented by cyclists but requires sharing the road with numerous vehicles, so stick to the bike lanes. When biking through downtown Boise, Eighth Street offers a great route from north to south, connecting with the Greenbelt near the Boise Public Library.

It's important to note that thin-walled rubber tires rarely last long against a common scourge in the Treasure Valley: goatheads. These spike-studded pieces of plant matter crop up across the desert landscape, seemingly designed by nature to turn a nice bicycle trip into a long walk. Your best defense against goatheads is a thick-walled tire like the Armadillo, or slime-filled tubes.

Carry a patch kit in the event a flat tire does happen, but note that when cycling in the city, you're never far from a bike shop that is more than willing to get you back on the road.

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