No change: ACHD will still remove Boise's buffered bike lanes

As a work group comes together to study a long-term solution, crews prepare to take out the bike lanes.

sberg@idahostatesman.comJune 6, 2014 

Cyclists use one of Boise's test bike lanes in early June. The lanes proved controversial and were later removed after a pilot project.

KATHERINE JONES — kjones@idahostatesman.com Buy Photo

Boise City Council President Maryanne Jordan's last-ditch plea Friday to save the Downtown Boise buffered bike lanes came to naught, as Ada County Highway District commissioners Mitchell Jaurena and Rebecca Arnold refused to reopen the district's discussion of them.

Because they voted Wednesday against a proposal by fellow commissioners Jim Hansen and John Franden to keep the bike lanes in place for at least the next two months, highway district rules dictated that only Jaurena and Arnold had standing to allow Wednesday's decision to be reconsidered.

The district’s fifth commissioner, Sara Baker, didn’t attend Wednesday’s meeting, but her absence didn’t change the outcome. At her request, district Director Bruce Wong read a statement from Baker in which she announced her opposition to keeping the bike lanes.

Five weeks ago, the district installed bike lanes on Downtown stretches of Capitol Boulevard, Main Street and Idaho Street on a trial basis. The lanes, which replaced car lanes, were separated from car traffic by paint, vertical markers and, in some places, a row of parked cars.

Some people loved the bike lanes. Some vocally opposed them. Thousands commented on them to the highway district. On Wednesday, commissioners' tied vote meant that the trial period would end, as prescribed, this week. Crews are set to begin removing the lanes this weekend and restoring the streets' original traffic configurations.

Friday, Jordan told the commission that Boise tech firm Clearwater Analytics plans to install 150 bike parking spaces at its new headquarters in City Center Plaza, which Eighth & Main building developer Gardner Co. plans to start building this year. She said Clearwater's commitment to bikes would increase demand for Downtown bike lanes in a way the commission didn't understand Wednesday when it refused to save the bike lanes.

She also said commissioners violated their financial responsibility because they failed to consider the tens of thousands of dollars it will cost to remove the lanes, which took about $50,000 to put in.

Jaurena and Arnold weren't convinced. Jaurena said reopening the discussion on the bike lanes would "violate our commission policies, procedures and protocols, in addition to our standards of conduct."

Despite the disappointment of Friday’s meeting, City Councilman David Eberle said he’s encouraged that the entire process of figuring out a better way to move cars, bicycles and pedestrians through Downtown is moving forward. The public’s overwhelming interest in the project has put the district on notice that people want a better system, he said.

Within an hour of the end of Wednesday’s meeting, Wong started putting together a group of local government and business representatives, as well as private interest groups, to study the bike lane issue, Franden said Friday. That’s the kind of effort the City Council and Mayor David Bieter asked the district to do before installing the bike lanes, and it could help find a workable solution now, Eberle said.

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