As expected, more people are riding their bikes along Boise's Capitol Boulevard, Main Street and Idaho Street since late April, when Ada County Highway District installed buffered bike lanes on the Downtown stretches of those roads.
That's according to counts the highway district, which maintains Boise's public roads, presented Wednesday.
But some degree of this phenomenon happens every year, whether there are bike lanes or not. As the weather gets nicer, more people ride bikes. What's not clear is if the new Downtown bike lanes are encouraging people to ditch their cars in favor of their bikes.
Another piece of evidence would seem to suggest that's exactly what's happening. The number of cars traveling down Capitol has declined during the pilot project. But Director Bruce Wong said the district has received emails from drivers who say they just avoid Capitol, Main and Idaho since the bike lanes went in. District Commissioner Rebecca Arnold said that's what she does.
At most points, the percentage of cyclists using sidewalks instead of the roads has decreased, according to the district's numbers.
The district installed the bike lanes the last week of April on a trial period that will last until at least June 4. At that point, the district's commission will decide whether to extend the trial period, make the bike lanes permanent, change their configuration or remove them and go back to the old way.
Here's a look at the data Wong presented Wednesday to the commission. A couple things to consider: First, the counts are one-time looks at various points along the bike lanes and roads, so they may not represent typical traffic. Second, the "before pilot project" numbers on the charts' left sides were taken in the weeks leading up to installation of the bike lanes.
Also, the p.m. "peak" hours were from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., the typical rush-hour period for cars. But some analysts say peak p.m. biking hours are between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.