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UPDATE: Boise Brothers Craft Their Own Blueprint for Better Bike Protection on Eighth Street

Proposal comes in the wake of two protests on busy thoroughfare

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Editor's Note

Correction:

In our story "No Parking Any Time, News, Nov. 8-14," we wrote, "As of press time, calls to CCDC for comment have not been returned," inadvertently implying CCDC had not returned calls to Boise Weekly instead of to the Anderson brothers. However, CCDC not only returned calls, but a CCDC official confirmed that the agency had fully communicated with one of the brothers prior to our story. We apologize for any inconvenience our error may have caused."

On any given weekday, parked cars line Eighth Street in downtown Boise, leaving a narrow path for one-way traffic. While there is a bike lane, it is frequently blocked by parked delivery trucks, which is why a score of people stood along Eighth Street this past summer, forming a human chain to bar delivery trucks, taxis and other motorists from parking in the bike lane.

"It's about making sure that when bike facilities are created, they are protected ... and not being used for other reasons," said Tucker Anderson, one of the organizers of the demonstration. "It's not a war on cars but a war on bad behaviors."

Tucker is an architect, his brother Clancy is a produce broker. Both use bikes to commute and advocate a protected bike lane along Eighth Street. They even created "Eighth Street Protected Bike Lane," a blueprint for improving cycling infrastructure on Eighth Street.

Unlike most Boise streets, which are owned and managed by the Ada County Highway District, two downtown blocks of Eighth Street are owned by the Capital City Development Corporation. In early 2019, CCDC will turn them over to the city. The Anderson brothers' blueprint mapped out what Eighth Street could look like, including temporary parking lanes and removable "flex posts," a CCDC requirement. Under the plan, Eighth Street between Main and Idaho streets would have several five-minute parking stalls opposite the bike lane. The contra-flow bike lane would be protected by bollards spaced out to account for Capital City Public Market stalls and walkways. The brothers sent their blueprint to CCDC in early July and have yet to hear back.

A concrete island proposed by the city and approved by ACHD is currently under construction on Capitol Boulevard in front of Boise City Hall, and could be a model for improving bike infrastructure on Eighth Street. The island, the cost of which is expected to reach $91,000, would be a physical barrier between motorists and cyclists there, but the Andersons said it will only confuse riders and drivers.

"It's just more of a concept," said Tucker. "As for the costs [of our plan], there's paint, which is negatable because most of the paint is already there. This is just a guess, and it's probably high, but even if you install the [flex posts] for $300 apiece, it's not that much. And then there's some signage, and we're showing a couple of these five-minute stalls."

The Andersons said they aren't planning any more demonstrations, and believe they have made their point. Instead, the brothers plan to keep trying to contact CCDC and the city. As of press time, [the Anderson's] calls to CCDC for comment have not been returned. (please see note at the top of this story for a correction).

Although officials haven't responded, the public has given input. Lisa Brady, president and events coordinator of the Treasure Valley Cycling Alliance, said the reaction has been positive because people are confused by the current road design.

"The thing that has come out both times we've been down there on that lane was that people didn't understand [it] was actually a bike lane or a fire lane, which shows me that when we put green, red, yellow or white [paint], that we have an assumed understanding of what that actually means in the department," said Brady.

Dave Fotsch, the director of Boise GreenBike, said he would like to see more protected bike lanes and see the number of cars downtown reduced. More riders, he said, would mean safer streets and increased visits to downtown businesses and restaurants.

"I know that the majority of the riders of our bike share program are the interested but concerned riders, so they're not the ones that are going [to go] out there and ride in traffic," Fotsch said.

Despite these concerns, City of Boise Spokesman Mike Journee said the busy downtown street is a "model of mixed use."

"Bike friendliness, pedestrian friendliness and, yes, vehicles too," Journee said. "We understand the broad range of challenges in a mixed-use environment, but at the end of the day, we have no immediate plans to change Eighth Street ... In fact, if we could duplicate the environment of Eighth Street [in] other locations, that would be great."

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