Wednesday, June 4, 2014

ACHD Kills Continuation of Downtown Boise Bike Lane Pilot Project

Posted By on Wed, Jun 4, 2014 at 4:58 PM

click to enlarge ACHD commissioners discussing the bike lane pilot project - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • ACHD commissioners discussing the bike lane pilot project

Boise's bicycle bike lanes pilot project has come to an end.

The Ada County Highway District Board of Commissioners decided Wednesday afternoon to remove the lanes and "revisit" adding a bike-friendly infrastructure to Boise's downtown, perhaps in August.

A motion was introduced by Commissioner Jim Hansen, to keep the current lanes, at least until scheduled road maintenance later this summer, then reinstate the lanes with improvements. But Hansen's motion was defeated In a 2-2 tie, so the ACHD Board deferred to its original duration of the pilot project—30 days, which has come and gone.

ACHD Commissioners Hansen and John Franden voted in favor of the motion to keep the lanes, but Rebecca Arnold and Mitchell Jaurena voted against it. Commissioner Sara Baker was absent from the meeting.

This means that the current buffered bike lanes will be removed from Capitol Boulevard, and Main and Idaho streets, likely within the next seven days.

"There's a lot of data we still need," said Hansen, arguing in favor of the motion.

"I'm not convinced that continuing [the pilot project] is the right thing to do," said Arnold, who argued in opposition to the motion.

ACHD Director Bruce Wong presented the findings of the pilot project and delivered three recommendations, the first of which was to "begin exit strategies and reconfigure all three roads." The other two were to continue scheduled resurfacing projects and re-evaluate installing bike infrastructure after a recommendation process. 

"This [project] has introduced uncertainty," he said. "Everybody's confused what the rules of the road are. That's just an accident waiting to happen."

Wong told the commissioners that the project was meant to be temporary. 

"There was a hard push to make this pilot project permanent, and that's not the purpose of the project," he said.

The lanes were nixed amid testimony overwhelmingly in support of continuing the pilot project, with 19 out of 23 speakers testifying in favor of keeping the lanes in place, including three members of the Boise City Council—David Eberle, Ben Quintana and Maryanne Jordan.

"We know we have more analysis to do," she said. 

The length of the project and whether the data collected over its course were consistently causes for concern among members of the public who testified.

click to enlarge Jimmy Hallyburton of Boise Bicycle Project - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Jimmy Hallyburton of Boise Bicycle Project

"One important reason to continue the pilot is it will allow the public to adjust to these lanes. One month is not long enough," said Deanna Smith of Idaho Smart Growth.

"To dismantle the project at this time would have us revert to hypotheses," said George Knight, a professor at Boise State University and a member of the ACHD's Bicycle Advisory Committee.

"Time is the key issue," said Boise Bicycle Project Executive Director Jimmy Hallyburton. "By extending this project we'll be able to gain [pilot project] data.

A few speakers testified against continuing the project. One of them was Gary Richardson, who said the lanes were installed prematurely and in awkward locations.

"I think it was a big mistake to get in your face with this experiment. I think you picked the wrong places to start this project," he said.

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