Plans to add new bike lanes and streetscape near the Boise Co-Op and St. Joe’s School are getting a shakeup after a flood of opposition over the summer.
On Wednesday, the Ada County Highway District Commission saw the latest redesign of a proposal to add protected bike lanes connecting 8th Street from State Street north to Union Street. The new design features new buffers between pedestrians, cyclists and drivers and splits the lanes north of Franklin into a sort of cycle track, where northbound traffic would ride up 8th Street to Union and southbound traffic into downtown would come down 9th Street.
These changes come after parents at St. Joe’s Catholic School told ACHD the bike lanes would inhibit the pick-up and drop-off zone for their children and parishioners of both St. John’s Cathedral and St. Michael’s Episcopal Church raised concerns about impacts it would have on parking for funerals, weddings and visitors needing accessible parking. Some cyclists also testified with safety concerns due to how the lanes were set up and where they would terminate at Union Street.
The project is split into two sections: One built by urban renewal district Capital City Development Corporation and the other by ACHD. CCDC’s section, 8th Street from State to Franklin street, is ready to head to design and eventually construction. ACHD doesn’t have a timeline for the project yet, but is putting its proposal out for another round of community feedback in the coming weeks.
This initiative is part of a decade-long project between the City of Boise, CCDC and ACHD to extend the bike network all the way from Broad Street into the North End.
Block by block
The first iteration of the project featured two projected bike lanes, one going in each direction, on both sides of 8th Street dead ending at Union Street.
This new proposal instead makes a circuit around 8th and 9th streets, moving the bike lanes away from St. Joe’s and St. John’s Cathedral on 8th Street by moving the southbound travel lane one block over to 9th Street. It starts with two raised, protected bike lanes in each direction from State Street to Franklin.
To accommodate the concerns of St. Michael’s, instead of moving two ADA parking spaces around the corner to State Street the project will keep those parking spaces in their current location. Instead, the bike lane will curve into the sidewalk around them, providing enough room for the accessible vehicles to off and on load someone using a wheelchair. It will also have a buffer between the sidewalk and the bike lane, plus a designated crosswalk to get from the parking stalls to the sidewalk.
“The changes we made are a reasonable way to press forward to address many of the concerns (St. Michael’s has),” Zach Piepmeyer, a CCDC staffer, said during the meeting.
Once the project hits Franklin, it will be ACHD’s jurisdiction. The northbound protected bike lane will continue up the east side of the street with street parking on the west side of 8th until the terminus of the project at Union. From there, cyclists can then go southbound on 9th Street.
ACHD is studying two concepts for 9th Street. The first concept would have a protected bike lane on the east side of the street, which would keep the protected bike lanes away from the main entrance to St. Joe’s and St. John’s on 8th Street, but would create potential conflicts between cyclists and cars at the driveway at the Boise Co-Op and near the planned drop off zone on 9th Street for St. Joe’s The second option would put the bike lane on the west side of the street, taking cyclists southbound and keep them away from the loading zones and driveways on the east side.
The downside to this design is if a cyclist wanted to keep going down a bike lane on 8th, they would have to cross Franklin Road a block to pick back up with the southbound lane.