Boise & Garden City

More cause for Downtown drivers to ditch their cars — this street may get bike lanes

A new plan for 8th Street in Downtown Boise would add bike lanes and reduce car lanes from Bannock to State streets.

The proposal from Boise’s urban renewal agency would extend the pedestrian-friendly street concept that now covers two blocks from The Grove Plaza north to Bannock by two more blocks north to State Street.

“The mayor and council are eager for an opportunity to create a bike connectivity network Downtown,” said Mike Journee, a spokesman for Mayor David Bieter. “As our city grows it’s very important to get more modes of transportation in the mix.”

The city would reduce traffic to one northbound shared car and bike lane on the block between Bannock and Jefferson, compared with three northbound car lanes now. It would add a southbound bike-only lane buffered from the northbound lane by an elevated bike curb.

It would also replace the parking spots on each side of 8th with a single back-in angled parking lane.

It would widen the sidewalk from 14 feet to 25 feet on one side of the street.

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From Bannock to Jefferson streets, two lanes of northbound car traffic would be eliminated and add a protected southbound bike lane added. Provided by the Capital City Development Corporation

Between Jefferson and State Streets, the sidewalks would stay at 14 feet wide. Traffic would go from three northbound lanes to two.

The proposal has already gathered some opponents. In an email to the city, Dean Rich Demarest of St. Michael’s Cathedral, on the northeast corner of State and 8th Streets, opposed the removal of street parking. He said that could affect seniors and worshipers with disabilities who park there, as well as families with young children.

Bike lane advocates have long supported a bike curb along 8th Street to better protect cyclists. In 2017, several bikers took to the street to act as a human protected bike lane and protest the cars that sometimes park in their way, the Statesman previously reported.

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From Jefferson to State streets, 8th Street would go from three northbound car lanes to two. It would also add a protected southbound bike lane. Provided by Capital City Development Corp.

The urban-renewal agency, the Capital City Development Corp., plans to complete its design this winter and proposes to start construction in summer 2019.

The city aims to work on street construction in concert with repaving projects that the Ada County Highway District has planned this summer for Bannock Street in the same area, Boise Transportation Planner Zach Piepmeyer said.

He said the plan highlights several of the city’s strategic transportation goals in the area, such as “biking and walking, improved streetscape and activating street-level retail.”

As for the back-in parking replacing parallel parking, Piepmeyer said studies in other cities show that can be safer than front-angled parking. Boise already has a block of back-in parking on 8th between Front and Broad Streets.

The Boise City Council will review the proposal during a work session at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15, at the City Council Chambers at 150 Capitol Blvd.

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Kate reports on West Ada and Canyon County for the Idaho Statesman. She previously wrote for the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Center for Investigative Reporting and the Providence Business News. She has been published in The Atlantic and BuzzFeed News. Kate graduated from Brown University with a degree in urban studies.