With a cycling commute like this, who needs caffeine?

Sometimes I’m sure my coffee compulsion will get me in trouble.

I ride my bicycle to work as much as I can in the summer, and I could easily bypass Fairview Avenue on the commute from my West Boise home. Cycling might tone my quads but my judgment remains flabby; many mornings, I still hit the Starbucks at Fairview and Cole Road to pick up a coffee.

This decision places me in the teeth of Ada County’s second-worst cycling intersection. As Patrick Orr reported Sunday, 10 car-bicycle accidents occurred at Fairview and Cole from 2007 to 2011. The worst intersection, with 11 accidents, is up the road a few miles, where Fairview meets Meridian Road and Cherry Lane.

I’m going to focus on Fairview and Cole today — because I know it firsthand, and because it nicely illustrates some of Boise’s cycle commuting problems.

The first and most glaring problem is infrastructure. Fairview and Cole were not designed to accommodate cyclists. Bike lanes are non-existent; shoulders are narrow. Even if everybody does everything right, following the rules and extending common courtesy, the roads put two-wheelers and four-wheelers in close proximity. You can ride Fairview, but it is by no means relaxing.

Some help is on the way at least at the intersection. A $5.6 million widening project is scheduled for 2017. The project will include bicycle lanes, said Matt Edmond, a senior transportation planner with the Ada County Highway District. As for widening Fairview, and adding bike lanes on either side of the Cole intersection, that work won’t begin for at least a decade.

That’s a long wait, and it dovetails with another problem. Bicycle commuters, like motorists, have a destination that usually requires them to take a main road. Even when I’m giving in to my coffee cravings, I spend as little time on Fairview as possible.
But it’s unrealistic to expect cyclists to do all their commuting on quiet, cycling-friendly side streets; it doesn’t always work that way.

So there we are. What’s the answer? It all comes back to a few basics.

Know the rules of the road. There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what the laws allow cyclists to do, and I’m not surprised.

The laws are confusing — and cyclists have their own set of rules.
If you take away anything from today’s column, let’s start here. To a cyclist, a red light is like a stop sign; cyclists can proceed after stopping and yielding right of way. A stop sign is akin to a yield sign; cyclists can proceed after slowing down and yielding right of way. If motorists and cyclists could just get on the same page about the rules, that would be a good start. (This one-page rundown from the Idaho Transportation Department is a good resource.)

Don’t be stupid. This goes for cyclists and motorists alike. I’ve seen plenty of dumb decisions on both sides. Not just a disregard for the law, but a disregard of common sense.

Considering that the odds don’t favor cyclists who crash with cars, it forever baffles me to see some riders treat the commute like it’s their own personal time trial (that’s Kristin Armstrong’s forte, not yours).

Don’t be rude. Most cyclists and motorists just want to get along. For every one motorist who honks, yells or otherwise hassles a cyclist, there are countless others who ease over to provide space, or wave a cyclist in at an intersection. But it’s the rude motorists, and the jerks on two wheels, who leave the lasting impression.

I know confusion over the laws and reckless decisions can lead to bad feelings. That doesn’t excuse bad behavior.

On Fairview, cyclists and motorists are in for a long hard ride. Lots of morning commutes in tight quarters. We’d best get used to each other.

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This is important stuff KR. I hope you/Statesman put it on the front page.

There are MANY motorists who think bikes are cars and have to obey the same rules. Not.
So many drivers get 'road rage' about cyclists when the cyclists are obeying the laws.
So many cyclists are STUPID and ride on the white line or against traffic.

Riding 2 abreast is legal. 3 is not.


If you're riding 2 abreast, it's only legal if you're not impeding traffic. Other than that clarification, I agree with you on all counts, pimp2.

(The impression I get is that the spandex-wearing "elite" cyclists probably stir up more animosity on the part of motorists than any other sub-genre of cyclists, due to the "elite" behavior that seems to often go along with the costumery.)

Why be a bigot among cyclists?

The only elite behavior I see is coming from your statement.
I wear "spandex" as you put it, for the padding, muscle support and sweat wicking properties when I ride the road-bike. I obey ALL bike laws, carry a copy of them in my seat pack, and remain constantly aware of my surroundings and vehicles at all times. Sir, bad behavior comes from the person, not the the attire, and there is plenty of bad behavior out there no matter how one is dressed. Please don't feed the hate on fellow cyclist because they wear different clothing than you do.


2017? Great.

Our bike lanes are terrible.

Yet ACHD puts their PR dept into self-applied contests so they can put out press releases that Boise is a great bike town.

Bike lanes are incomplete, segmented, unmaintained and don't provide a reasonable route to commute or even go to the local grocery store.

Now ACHD has done the green paint thing in some lanes. GREEN??? You have to be kidding us! It is hardly noticable, despite the purpose of trying to get attention.

Fairview & Cole has been the same intersection for 30 years. And lots of other ADA roads have had growth around them but no road improvements.
Fine there is not the space for full bike lanes... how about decent lanes in the next parallel road?
There is nothing on Franklin RD and Ustick Rd is incomplete.

PINE AVE- one half mile away from Fairview- a person can ride from Meridian to Downtown on this one road. The bike lane is not complete- despite ALL the MANY construction projects on that road.

A look at the curent bike map shows the story. Deaths, injuries, frustration- comes from ACHD's lack of thoughtful action in my awesome opinion:

For Fairview, how about complete sidewalks so a bike could ride on the sidewalk more safely than IN the street?

Went to BNL last night and noticed the sidewalk at the Historical bldg just DROPS off into dirt. Wheelchairs? Disabled? Elderly? ACHD/P&Z/City could required the State to complete the sidewalk up to the Pen/Botantical Society. If not, then why waste the money for a segment. This same type of cluster_ dominates the bike lane issue.

The ACHD taketh away, and giveth but little

Not sure exactly where in West Boise you're coming from, but if your destination is the Statesman office on Curtis, you're in for unpleasantness sooner or later, even without the annual program to keep windshield repair businesses viable. They're just wrapping up the destruction of Ustick, which enjoyed a brief period of perfection with wide traffic lanes and bike lanes with smooth asphalt paving. Milwaukee wasn't so great, but it's back to full-on, fresh chipseal horror now.

The good news: the Northview reconstruction between Cole and Curtis is superb. Enjoy that "black powder" while it lasts (which I have to assume is a maximum of 2 or 3 years).

Thank you Kevin Richert

Great Article!

Happy and safe riding.

Economy sux and KR talks bicycle. HA HA HA

So very lame. With these econ numbers, and and a Repub in charge, this blog would go Syria on the President.

What's the next story, a doll show at the mall.

Come out, and write some real un- biased stories.

Please tell me your bike is not.....

the kind you lay on your back to ride, with feet out in front, inches off the ground, with a small red flag mounted atop a pole so motorists can see you. Please tell me that's not you I see.