Cyclists protected by law in Boise, Idaho

Cyclist-pedestrian-motorist interaction should improve

Boise City Council in Idaho, USA, has implemented three new ordinances (a law made by the local authority) intended to protect cyclists and pedestrians in the city.

Three cyclists died in bicycle related incidents last summer which lead to the introduction of The City of Boise Cycling Safety Task Force who recommended three new ordinances in a report several months ago. Citizens of Boise convened on Tuesday January 12 to take part in a five-hour long meeting regarding the intended changes to the original rules.

“I think there is wide recognition following three cyclists deaths last summer in the different incidents that education about interaction is task,” said Kurt Holzer, cycling enthusiast and attorney at Holzer and Edwards, Chartered.

“First, the new ordinance, more than anything, gives law enforcement, driving instructors, teachers, responsible cyclists standards to point to so that cyclists, pedestrians and motorists can interact in a predictible manner,” he added. “I am sure there is a wide range emotional responses to the new ordinances in the long run however, they will well serve the primary goal of safety for all members of the public, in my view.”

The new ordinance states that drivers must yield to cyclists at intersections, provide a minimum distance of three feet when passing a cyclist and cannot cut bicycles off when turning. Furthermore, cyclists cannot ride recklessly or in crowded pedestrian areas and must give a warning before passing a pedestrian on the sidewalk. Lastly, motorists cannot intentionally intimidate or harass cyclists.

“Across the US, States are recognizing the need for the updating of cycling statutes and establishing standards for vehicles and cyclists. To work towards the goal of "why can't we all just get along,” Holzer said. “Boise is simply part of that natural process.  Both motorists and cyclists have obligations to operate their vehicles safely, predictibly and legally. The new rules help each group understand what that means.”

The Boise City Council meeting was in session for up to five hours. However, the lengthy meeting offered a chance for the last minute adjustments to the recommendations where many citizens were interested and heard by the Boise City Council.

“As in many areas, the conflicts between motorists and cyclists have a certain emotional heat,” Holzer said. “The process the City of Boise went through as a collaborative development of safety regulations was first rate. The ultimate result was a very balanced statute that recognises the risks that motorists present to cyclists as well as the risks that cylcists present when they ride unsafely.”

Holzer noted that many developing ordinances take time for all parties involved to get used to the idea of change and likewise, it takes time to make the necessary adjustments.

“Sure there are people who ‘don't agree’  but that is what the process of developing the ordinances was about,” Holzer said. “Giving all perspectives a chance to shape the standards by which we interact on the roadways. Change is hard for people and we live in a car centric culture.  I am sure there will be some headaches that arise in implementation and enforcement but hopefully, over time, we will all learn to live with the rules and most importantly lives and tempers will be spared.”

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