A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from a friend who was aghast at the potential price to make a contested stretch of Garden City Greenbelt bicycle-friendly. “Seems like taking down the ‘no bikes’ signs costs a shade under $1.1 million.”
I’d kind of assume the contractor would throw in the sign removal as part of the deal. But when it comes to the Garden City Greenbelt, there a risk in assuming much of anything.
Voters in Garden City will finally get a say on Nov. 6 about the fate of a 1 1/2-mile unpaved “nature path” on the north side of the Boise River in the Riverside Village subdivision. The unpaved path is off-limits to bicycles — unless voters decide to allow cycling.
City officials decided to put this long-simmering issue on the ballot, and then asked The Land Group, an Eagle-based engineering firm, to run the numbers. Paving and widening the path would cost an estimated $1.143 million.
Critics, who have been battling the Garden City bike ban in court, were quick to question the cost estimate — and the need for paving, when nearby sections of Greenbelt are unpaved.
I’m no engineer — just a law-abiding guy who has never biked the wheels-free section but has run it numerous times. It’s narrow. Thanks to numerous tree roots, it’s also bumpy. To my untrained eye, paving looks like a big job.
But Garden City doesn’t exactly have a lot of credibility on this issue. It’s easy for the critics to suggest that the city is using this study — and this eye-popping cost figure — to stir up community opposition to the plan.
That’s what happens when a city spends more than three decades skirting a 1980 agreement to install a north side bike path on state land.
This sorry record does not call the third-party data into question, but it does call the city's motives into question, weeks before an election designed to “settle” this issue. It’s a credibility problem of Garden City’s doing.