Boise cyclists turn activists to promote bike and car safety
A proposed bikeway along 11th Street is could soon be a reality — and it could run right through the Boise High School campus.
The bikeway, built by the Ada County Highway District, would run from Heron Street in the North End to West State Street, connecting Camel’s Back Park with Downtown.
It would be part of a “low-stress bikeway” shared by vehicles, but where traffic is slight and speeds are 25 mph or less. A low-street bikeway is a road where “biking is likely to be comfortable for people with a wide range of ages and abilities,” according to the 2018 Bike Master Plan addendum to ACHD’s Roadways to Bikeways plan.
Brooke Green, a senior transportation planner for the Ada County Highway District, told the district’s commissioners Sept. 4 that ACHD worked closely with administrators at Boise High to identify the best way to route the cycling public.
Tenth, 11th and 12th streets run up to the Boise High campus, stop, and resume on the other side. Administrators wanted to avoid routing cyclists through 10th Street, which runs between the high school and other buildings on its campus, Green said. They couldn’t run it through 12th Street, because the school’s track and Ray Dilulo Field are in the way.
So they proposed using 11th Street, between the school’s west side and the track. Bicyclists and pedestrians already cut through the campus on the existing sidewalk, pavement and grass there.
Concept plans for the path show the part that runs through the campus would be a “multi-use pathway” that would have space for pedestrians and cyclists. Building the path would require “removal/demolition of obstacles and an easement through the campus,” according to a presentation Green gave ACHD commissioners.
Dan Hollar, a spokesman for the Boise School District, said the path would help students, many of whom bike to school, as well as the community at large.
“This is about being able to provide a safe route for our students and community to access Downtown Boise and also Boise’s North End,” Hollar said by email. “Understanding, of course, that citizens should be mindful that they will be crossing a school campus and we want them to do that safely.”
Hollar said the school district is working with ACHD to design the pathway “in a way that is aesthetically pleasing” and environmentally friendly. Plans include improved intersection lighting at both Franklin and Washington streets, and all-way stops with stop signs at both intersections.
Other sections of the bikeway would have wayfinding signs, pavement markings and enhanced crossings.
Conventional bike lanes, between vehicle lanes and curbs, from the Washington Street, on the south side of the school and track, for one block south to State Street.
The bikeway was originally identified as needed in the 2016 North Boise Neighborhood Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, which was prepared for ACHD by Boise-based Kittelson & Associates, and then reaffirmed in 2018 with the Bike Master Plan Addendum.
ACHD officials got input on the project from a variety of people, including students and administrators at Boise High School as well as officials with the City of Boise and the Capital City Development Corp., the city’s urban renewal arm.
The project is estimated to cost $562,500, including $302,000 in pedestrian improvements, $73,000 in bike facilities, $112,500 in design costs and $75,000 in contingency funds. ACHD is set to pay for it, but a Natalie Shaver, a spokeswoman for ACHD, said it might talk to the school district about sharing costs.
Other features of the project will include improving pavement and pedestrian ramps, and installing sharrows (pavement markings that indicate a shared lane for cyclists). Shaver said construction would begin in 2020.
Public comment on the pathway project is set to open on Oct. 9. It will go before ACHD for a public hearing at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23.