In the wake of three recent cyclist deaths, Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson is stepping up enforcement of bike laws on Boise Streets.
Masterson told citydesk this morning that he's, "not going to jump to conclusions that automobiles are at fault in all three of them [the cyclist deaths].” Masterson does not expect that drug or alcohol use were a factor in any of the fatal crashes, though he is waiting for toxicology reports to come back before confirming that. And he said that he had preliminary investigatory information that indicates the cause of some of the crashes but is not ready to release that information either.
No one has been charged in any of the fatal crashes yet. Masterson explained the delay in a recent guest opinion piece, saying that death investigations always take extra time.
But since the three deaths, which came within a few weeks of one another, several cyclists have been cited for rolling violations, including riding against traffic, and police, including the department's public information officer Lynn Hightower, have noticed many cyclists breaking the law.
Masterson has asked officers to issue warnings to cyclists who are breaking the law including the following regs:
1. Riding against traffic - Position on Roadway (by far, say officers, the most frequently observed violation) - Boise City Code 10-14-06 (A) , Idaho State Code 49-717 (1). You'll notice the Boise City Code is more specific and actually cites "riding against traffic", however, this law is in place statewide. Fine = $46.50
2. Going through "Stop" sign without slowing for traffic - ISC 49-720 (1). Though a cyclist can go through a stop sign without completely stopping, they are required by state law to stop for traffic that's close enough to be an "immediate hazard". Many cyclists are seen by officers not slowing at all. Fine = $46.50
3. No headlight at night - BCC 10-14-03 (D), ISC 49-723. Headlights are not for the vision of the cyclist but so the cyclist can be seen by others! Fine = $46.50
4. Riding through "Don't Walk" signal at crosswalk - BCC 10-14-08, ISC 49-721 C. Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as pedestrians when riding on sidewalks and in crosswalks. When cyclists ride off the sidewalk into the road, they must observe motorist traffic laws. Fine = $46.50
And while Boise Police have also been targeting aggressive drivers in recent weeks, there is no special awareness campaign targeted to them. Masterson said police cannot do anything about drivers texting or reading the paper, unless they commit another violation.
“We’re still in a state that allows TVs in motor vehicles that can be viewed by drivers. That’s crazy,” he said. “I think we all need some help from the legislature on that.”