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Calling Bikers and Walkers

Idaho Pedestrian and Bicycle Alliance nabs startup grant

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A nascent effort to unite cyclists and pedestrians across Idaho has gotten a major shot in the arm with a $20,000 startup grant from the Alliance for Biking and Walking.

The Idaho Pedestrian and Bicycle Alliance was hatched at last year's Community Bicycle Congress at Boise State, according to George Knight, who convened the Congress and serves as treasurer for the IPBA.

"We have an interest in getting useful information into the hands of legislators and policymakers," Knight said.

The group has been quietly building its membership since the fall of 2009, but the matching grant from the alliance will allow them to hire a director and convene a second statewide meeting.

Jeff Miller, president and CEO of the national "people powered" transportation group, said the IPBA received one of about 20 grants in 16 states--they've handed out $384,000 in the past two years. But he said they got requests for some $2 million in grants and praised the IPBA, citing a commitment to rural areas as well.

The IPBA brings together cycling groups from across Idaho as well as pedestrian advocates.

"I actually am a pedestrian advocate, I tend to push for walkability," said IPBA president Molly O'Reilly. "Walkability is really key to livable cities, as is being able to bicycle."

O'Reilly is from Sandpoint, but pointed to street signs in Boise as a potential pedestrian issue for the group. The signs are designed for big trucks, not walkers, she said, noting they only face oncoming traffic and are mounted high.

The board also includes directors from Moscow, Coeur d'Alene and Victor.

Knight, a philosophy professor at Boise State, said it makes sense to combine cycling and walking issues.

"The logic has to do with the way federal legislation tends to get written and the way that the Idaho Transportation Department organizes itself. ITD has a bike-ped coordinator, the federal transportation authorizations tend to treat projects for pedestrians and bicyclists under the same authority," he said.

IPBA is an Idaho nonprofit and has applied for federal tax-exempt status. Its goals include advocating for infrastructure improvements to help walkers and bikers, educating motorists, cyclists and pedestrians about Idaho laws, and making Idaho a League of American Bicyclists Top 10 Bike Friendly States within five years.

The Web site idahopedbike.org has more information about the group's mission and a membership form.