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Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Bike boxes appear in downtown Boise to increase cyclist safety; Part of bike lane demonstration project

The green-painted boxes will make riders more visible, positioning them in front of stopped traffic to prevent the turning conflicts that can occur between cyclists and motorists at intersections.

Two kinds of boxes will appear on Capitol Boulevard, Main and Idaho streets as part of the buffered bike lane demonstration project officially kicking off Thursday. For at least the next month, ACHD will conduct a pilot project to add buffered, or protected, bike lanes to the three streets, removing one existing vehicle lane on each road.

Bike boxes have been used extensively in Portland, Oregon, Chicago and New York City to reduce car-vs.-bike collisions. The concept puts the cyclist in high-visibility locations at intersections, where direction changes can create hazards.

The first kind of box positions riders at the head of the stopped traffic to prevent the "right hook" accident where right-turning autos hit cyclists going straight (please see attached brochure). Once the light turns green, the cyclists enter the intersection first, followed by the autos, which can go straight or turn right. No right turns are allowed on red lights.

The second box helps cyclists making left turns. Instead of merging across motorized traffic to be in position for a left turn, the cyclist rides into the intersection and stops in the bike box on the far side, positioned in front of cross-street traffic. Once the green light comes for cross street users, the cyclist enters the intersection in front of the motorized traffic, again reducing potential conflict.

The first bike boxes were installed Monday evening on Capitol at Myrtle Street and River Street. The Myrtle box is for riders going straight, while the River box helps cyclists make the left turn. Brochures about the boxes have been placed at locations across downtown and how-to videos are on ACHD’s web site, www.achdidaho.org.

ACHD crews began work Monday evening, erasing existing lane lines on Capitol Boulevard and putting down new striping that includes a buffered bike lane – an area for cyclists separated from motorized traffic. Once work is finished on Capitol, crews will move to Idaho and Main streets with a goal of having the full conversion in place by week’s end.

ACHD plans for the pilot to run through May and possibly into June.

The public can tell ACHD what it thinks of the proposal starting Thursday, May 1, 2014, by going to www.achdidaho.org and taking the online survey. Citizens can call or e-mail ACHD but the online survey will allow the District to best track and evaluate the public reaction.

Besides the public opinion, ACHD will also measure traffic congestion, trip delays, use of the new lanes by cyclists, and gather feedback from Boise City, the Capital City Development Corporation, downtown businesses and other interested parties.

More information is available about the project on ACHD’s web site, www.achdidaho.org.

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