When the Ada County Highway District Board of Commissioners made the final decision to remove downtown Boise's buffered bike lanes earlier this month, John Franden—president of the board—made an attempt to reassure the crowded room of meeting attendees, many dangling helmets and fingerless gloves from their hands.
"I am optimistic that all of us can be working together," Franden said, and he said he was confident that a stakeholder group could come together and have a new bike lane plan proposed within 60 days.
ACHD put that stakeholders group together earlier this week, inviting 42 individuals to study how to make bike lanes work best for downtown Boise. They had their first meeting on the afternoon of June 25, and ACHD spokesman Craig Quintana told BW it went pretty well.
"More than half of the folks we invited showed up," Quintana said. Nearly 25 individuals from the Boise Police and Fire departments, the YMCA Safe Routes to Schools program, the Mayor's Office, the Boise Bicycle Project, and ACHD's Bicycle Advisory Committee were tasked to talk out the buffered bike lanes' issues.
The stakeholders were divided into groups and assigned homework. Bike advocates will research long-term education for bicyclists on bike boxes and rules of the road. The police department will look at legality of bike lanes and how to make city code match Boise City Council's wants. The group will then come together again on July 15 and show their findings.
That 60-day goal may be a little too optimistic though, according to Quintana.
"It seems doubtful," he said. "We have a lot of ground to cover."
The meeting took place despite a letter sent to the commissioners by City Council President Maryanne Jordan, expressing her frustration that the council got no say on who should be in the stakeholder group.
Jordan submitted the letter to the ACHD commissioners June 24, stating that, "By a unanimous vote, the Boise City Council requests that the currently configured stakeholder group be suspended until such time that the leadership of the Council and Commission can meet to identify specific policy direction for the effort."
She also wrote she doubted the group would be effective without first having a meeting between the council and ACHD to identify objectives for the group. She requested the meeting be canceled and the group disbanded until such a dialogue started. But ACHD once again didn't show interest in what she had to say, and did not cancel the meeting.
"[Her letter] came at the 11th-and-a-half hour, so it's a little late," Quintana said. "It's kind of hard to tell a group of 40-some people not to show. The show must go on."