Boise & Garden City

Bicyclists worry that this change to Boise’s 27th Street could make it less safe

A group of bicyclists is voicing concern about possible reductions in pedestrian and bicycle safety on 27th Street as the Ada County Highway District prepares to discuss and review the street’s lane configurations this Wednesday.

The 0.7-mile stretch of 27th from Main to State Street is three lanes, with one lane in each direction and a center turn lane. Before 2014, it was four lanes, with two lanes of travel in each direction and no center turn lane.

The 2014 reconfiguration added bike lanes, improved pedestrian safety and updated school crossings. The project cost $600,000.

ACHD has received a small petition to review the project and hear concerns from the public, ACHD spokeswoman Natalie Shaver said in a phone interview. She did not know who circulated the petition or how many signatures it carried.

Shaver said the commission will review the previous traffic study that was done in 2012, look at the options that were given at the time of the previous configuration, and hear public testimony.

Lisa Brady, president of the Treasure Valley Cycling Alliance and director of the Safe Routes to Schools program, a federally funded program based at the Treasure Valley YMCA, said 27th Street has become a major connection in the bicycle network. Additionally, some of the crosswalks on the street have become safe routes for students.

Brady said there are concerns because 27th Street has been a connection to Whittier Elementary School at 301 N. 29th St. She said it’s important to understand how young people are navigating the road.

“Returning that road back to a four-lane crossing would make it very dangerous for young people to cross the road and get to their school,” Brady said in a phone interview with the Statesman.

For bicyclists, the crosswalk with Pleasanton Avenue provides access to the Greenbelt through Esther Simplot Park, and it has become a bikeway for people, Brady said.

She said today’s configuration is much safer than the old one for all movements, including pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers, and it provides better visibility.

“When it was a four-lane road, … there wasn’t any room for a person on a bicycle,” Brady said. “That was a dangerous road, but people still needed to ride it.”

The commission meeting will be Wednesday at 6 p.m. The street is up for discussion and a possible decision by commission members, not a public hearing, according to the meeting agenda.

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Maddie Capron is an intern with the Idaho Statesman, covering general news and features. She is a recent graduate of Ohio University and grew up in Ohio. Previously, she was an intern with the Ohio Center for Investigative Journalism, Garden Center and Cleveland Scene magazines.