The Ada County Highway District deserves great credit for once again striking down the Main and Idaho bike lane issue by putting safety first and a city political agenda last.
On July 6 at noon (a shortened holiday week) the brain trust on 150 N. Capitol, led by the longest-serving empty suit in Boise mayor history, attempted a sneak attack ambush on an issue that was overwhelmingly defeated two years ago. In a very unethical manner they brought in all the Boise bike community big guns to pressure the commission on a matter that was already tested and widely struck down in 2014 by the public.
They gave no credible empirical data, and they have yet to pass any city bike ordinances asked for by ACHD, but still they want to place people’s lives at risk on Main and Idaho. The city feels that all of the new building in downtown can be solely supported by riders and walkers living within five miles of downtown. Forget about visitors from West Ada County or even Canyon County. Apparently we don’t need them or want them. The reason the traffic counts have not changed in 20 years is because no one in other areas want to deal with the parking and bike lane chaos in downtown. If the city leaders would leave the bubble of downtown Boise once in a while they would understand that.
If you ride/drive a snowmobile, motorcycle, UTV, ATV or boat, there are registration stickers purchased every year from the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation. The funds gathered are allocated to the area in which you designate on your registration and are used to build and maintain those systems. There is a great sense of entitlement within the groups that are driving this aggressive agenda in Boise. If the bikers want this system to be built and maintained, then they need to register their bikes annually and pay a fee. This is a fair way for them to have a real stake in the system and not push all the costs to the property tax system. In addition, law enforcement would be able to track these bikes in the cases of lost/stolen bikes, and we would have an idea of how many bikers there are out there. Maybe we can start giving tickets to bikers not obeying the laws. The fine money could be put back into the system, just like driver infractions. Those funds could also be used for public education. This has been called for by the ACHD on numerous occasions.
When are we going to start coordinating with Meridian, Nampa and Caldwell on a plan to handle the transportation needs of over a million people in this valley instead of micromanaging parking and biking in downtown Boise? We need a freeway ring around the city and high-speed rail from Caldwell to at least Gowen. In addition, Eagle Road needs a rail system from I-84 to Eagle. What we don’t need is an expensive trolley to nowhere, bike lanes on every street and micromanaging of parking fees. Of course, that would require leadership at Boise City Hall. Fat chance on that.
Scott Mecham is an independent investment manager and Certified Public Accountant. He has been working in downtown Boise for nearly 20 years, 16 of which has been in the Sonna Building.