Hello Idaho by Robert Ehlert: Meeting to reinforce sharing road

November 6, 2013 

Robert Ehlert

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I am seeing way too many ghost bikes and roadside memorials for pedestrians these days. I wish I could say I was seeing them in scary dreams from which I and those involved could awaken and walk away unscathed to the friendly daylight of morning.

But the ghostly white bikes on Hill Road and at 31st and State Street, and tributes to pedestrian fatalities I happen upon, keep reminding me that more needs to be done to educate motorists, pedestrians and cyclists about best practices out there on the Treasure Valley roads.

I am encouraged by the informational meeting planned for 6 p.m. today at the Boise Bicycle Project (1027 Lusk, Boise, call 429-6520). It’s being put on jointly by the BBP, the Idaho Pedestrian & Bicycle Alliance and the Treasure Valley Cycling Alliance.

I know from discussions with the Boise Police Department that officers will be attending to listen and, if called upon, to share insights.

One of the reasons to love the Treasure Valley is for walkability and its access for bicycles. The number of bikes has increased nearly sevenfold and the miles of bike paths quadrupled in recent years, according to recent studies.

What needs to increase along with that is our awareness of one another out there — especially now, as daylight diminishes each day and many of us don’t want to diminish the joy of walking and riding on our streets.

Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson shared an anecdote about a cyclist attempting to illuminate his path in the darkness with a cellphone. Two of the recent bike fatalities were out there without benefit of bike helmets.

Masterson and urban biking veterans say it is just as important to be seen as it is to see when you’re out there walking or riding.

It’s the law to have a headlight and a red taillight. It makes sense to take a lot of other precautions.

Here at the Statesman we hear from letter writers and commenters about people nearly running over walkers and cyclists dressed in black at night. We hear from cyclists about motorists who — sometimes unknowingly — clip them and open car doors in their paths.

I just want to offer support to the discussions today because there is no substitute for safety. None of us wants to see another memorial to tragedy that can be avoided.

No doubt there is something for all of us to learn as we equip ourselves to be seen and heard out there. In the end it is all about sharing the road we pick to our destination.

Today’s meeting agenda says it all: “To reduce confusion and collisions that exist between motorists and nonmotorists.”

Robert Ehlert is the Statesman’s editorial page editor. Contact him at 377-6437, or on Twitter @IDS_HelloIdaho.

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