Laws may change for Boise cyclists, drivers
A task force issued 24 recommendations to the City Council to make Boise streets safer.
In its final report, the Boise Cycling Safety Task Force laid the groundwork for increasing safety for cyclists and motorists.
Mayor Dave Bieter put together the seven-member task force after three cyclists were killed this summer in Boise.
The recommendations include improving bike lanes and creating more of them, new ordinances and sweeping educational campaigns.
"There already is a bike culture here. The shift that has to occur is a dramatic increase in mutual respect," said Boise City Council Pro Tem Alan Shealy, a cyclist. "Drivers and bikers have to understand that we have to share the road."
The final report incorporates feedback from two public open houses held in August on the draft document.
"By no means have we answered all the problems," said AAA Idaho spokesman Dave Carlson. "We think the process will lead to better understanding. Both sides need to continue working on the issues."
The proposed ordinances will go through the standard three-reading process by the City Council, and, in some cases, public hearings before becoming law, said Bieter’s assistant Michael Zuzel, a task-force member.
"The laudable aspect of the proposed legislation is it treats everybody equally," Shealy said. "There are things cyclists will have to do, and things drivers will have to do."
By far the most contentious issue has been the language of a proposed "3-feet-to-pass" ordinance, Zuzel said. The ordinance would require motorists to give 3 feet when passing cyclists, "whenever possible."
"I just think it emasculates the ordinance," Shealy said. "Anytime you give a driver an excuse not to abide by the proposal, he or she’s going to do it."
But the counterargument came from the Boise Police Department, which didn’t want cars stacking up behind cyclists on narrow streets like those in the North End.
"Any time you have to pass a double yellow line, by law you commit reckless driving," said Boise Police Deputy Chief Jim Kerns. "The reality is it’s still a violation of the law. It’s tough for us to create a law that violates a law."
State law would have to be amended to allow cars to cross the double yellow line in order to pass a cyclist, a change Shealy said he’d like to see.
Enforcement of an ordinance making it a misdemeanor to harass a cyclist will be more straightforward, Kerns said.
Cyclists will be able to submit the license number of the vehicle to police for follow-up and possible citations, Kerns said.