Friday, June 6, 2014

ACHD Refuses To Reconsider Boise Bike Lanes; Previous Vote Stands, Lanes Will Disappear

Posted By on Fri, Jun 6, 2014 at 4:53 PM

click to enlarge City Council President Maryanne Jordan presented her case for why the ACHD commissioners should reconsider their motion to rip out the bike lanes over the coming weekend. - JESSICA MURRI
  • Jessica Murri
  • City Council President Maryanne Jordan presented her case for why the ACHD commissioners should reconsider their motion to rip out the bike lanes over the coming weekend.

More than 100 people crammed into the Ada County Highway District's meeting room Friday afternoon, many clad in bike jerseys and fingerless gloves, while bike helmets dangled from their hands. The crowd couldn't fit into the room and spilled out into ACHD's lobby, craning their heads to watch as Boise City Council President Maryanne Jordan stood before ACHD's commissioners, pleading for a reconsideration on their June 4 motion to remove the bike lanes after the 30-day trial period ended early this month.

Jordan spoke for only five minutes; but in that time, she told the commissioners that she had new evidence not yet heard by the board, and found errors in their earlier actions. She pointed out that a stakeholder group was established on the "eleventh hour" to determine if the buffered bike lanes on Capitol Boulevard, Main and Idaho streets should remain, questioning the stakeholders' "fruitful[ness]." 

She also pointed out that ACHD spend $50,000 on paint, candlesticks, and contractors, not including the cost of ACHD's own equipment or personnel. "One might assume that the nighttime nature of the work involved overtime, but we don't know because that information has not been reviewed at the hearing," Jordan said.

"An additional $25,000 to $30,000 will be required for the removal of the lanes," Jordan continued. "This again does not include the cost of ACHD personnel, then the cost of reinstallation, should the stakeholder group's recommendations support reinstallation of some form."

Jordan told ACHD Commissioners, in a matter-of-fact voice, that only a more thorough analysis on the project could answer the questions on whether or not the money was well spent. She requested on behalf of the city of Boise that the bike lanes remain while more data is collected.

But the ACHD commissioners charged with reconsidering had no desire to do so.

"Having read the 12,000 comments and listened to three hours of testimony, and having listened to President Maryanne Jordan today, I have heard nothing new," said commissioner Mitchell Jaurena. "With her inability to reach the basic requirement for reconsideration of the motion, to do so would clearly be arbitrary and capricious."

"I'm afraid I have to agree with Mr. Jaurena," said commissioner Rebecca Arnold. "[Her testimony] doesn't meet our standard to reconsider the decision." 

ACHD Commissioner Jim Hansen, a proponent for the bike lanes, said he was "obviously disappointed."

"But I am optimistic that all of us can be working together. I am going to go now and continue what I was doing this morning, which was welcoming 1,500 folks who are here to swim, run and cycle," Hansen said, referring to June 7's Iron Man triathlon. 

John Franden, president of ACHD's board of commissioners, said he's confident that the stakeholders' group will come up with solutions. He promised a new bike lane plan will be released in the next 60 days.

The crowd left the meeting room, several grumbling sentiments like, "Waste of money," and "They didn't even give it a chance."

Out on the sidewalk, Kristin Little straddled her bike with a group of other cyclists, discussing the meeting. She said that when she heard about this second meeting on Friday afternoon, she said she didn't know what outcome to expect.

"I think we were too afraid to hope," Little said. "But this experience has taught me about civic duties and learning about how my city works, and who to vote for."

Linda Moore doesn't even have a bike. As she walked to her Subaru Forester, she said she was disappointed the bike lanes won't last. 

"As a driver, I felt safe for the first time in years," Moore said. She said she liked the separation between bikes and cars, keeping them out of each other's way.

In this week's edition of Boise Weekly, readers learned about the ACHD's Traffic Management Center where engineers observe traffic patterns from 115 cameras fixed to stoplights across the Treasure Valley. Those engineers told BW that many of the complains about the bike lanes—e.g. they made riders less safe, the lanes contributed to traffic congestion—had been overstated.

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