Opinion

Would Capitol Boulevard make a good North-South bike route?

In addition to everything else that we ask Capitol Boulevard to do, to be and to transport — can we also ask it to be a main arterial bike lane delivering North-South traffic through the downtown Boise area?

That is a question on the table and the radar of Ada County Highway District planners and a group of 50 stakeholders who are looking for solutions for better bike traffic in the city following the cessation of the buffered bike lane experiments over the summer.

Capitol is at the core of the discussion right now because it is also at the core of the city — a huge plus. But Capitol is also the gateway to Boise from the airport. It is heavily involved in the redo of the blocks around the Grove Plaza that will be affected by the new transportation and convention center developments. Can it handle all this and, perhaps, a two-lane/two-way bike lane? And what about the heavy traffic this route will encounter when crossing Front and Myrtle Streets?

When I ride my bike to and from work at the Statesman (from Bogus Basin/Hill Road area) I feel most safe and content when I am on the Greenbelt Connector segment between Orchard St. and the Greenbelt. There is nothing like that pedestrian/bike sanctuary on the other side of the river. In my mind, that is what needs to be included in the grand scheme of the Boise/Treasure Valley bike future — more bike/pedestrian-only segments connecting to the Greenbelt.

I enjoyed a bike system like this in the Sacramento, Calif., area. The 36 American River Parkway there is similar to the Greenbelt — following the American River as our Greenbelt follows the Boise River.

There were several “connector” spokes and paths linking the suburbs to the main American River Parkway. Many of these negotiated busy thoroughfares over bike/pedestrian bridges. After construction preparations were completed, one of these bridgeswas installed in Folsom, Calif., in 2010. A crane unloaded it from a truck and positioned it across a four-lane road overnight. Total cost $2.1 million.

What is it worth to create a safe and vibrant pedestrian/bike/auto/public transportation system in the Treasure Valley? What better way to keep mishaps between pedestrian/cyclists and motorists to a minimum than to bridge right over some of the problems?

There is much more to be discussed about Capitol-Boulevard-The-Bikeway, and ACHD and the 50 stakeholders will use this option as a “conversation starter” Tuesday, Aug. 12, when they next meet. Meanwhile, what do you think about Capitol as a North-South bike artery?

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