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Boise City Council OKs new rules to protect cyclists

The Idaho Statesman: Boise City Council OKs new rules to protect cyclists

Among the changes, motorists must allow 3 feet when passing riders.

BY BETHANN STEWART - bstewart@idahostatesman.com
Copyright: © 2009 Idaho Statesman
Published: 01/13/10

A controversial "whenever possible" clause was removed Tuesday from a proposed 3-feet-to-pass ordinance.

"The safety of the cyclist is more important than the convenience of the vehicle," said Council Pro Tem Alan Shealy, who made the motion to removed the clause. "Until we gain the collective wisdom that we must share the road ... there should be a 3-foot buffer in all instances."

Testimony at the public hearing Tuesday favored removal of the clause.

"It makes it clearer and doesn’t leave it open to interpretation," said Jeff Larsen, a recreational cyclist.

At least two people testified that bicycles should be held to the same standards as vehicles and not use sidewalks or crosswalks.

But Lon Stewart, a recreational cyclist and bicycle commuter, said the ordinances would help make the streets safer.

"I’m glad they acted so quickly," he said.

The three new ordinances include other changes to city code:

- Making it a misdemeanor for a motorist or any person to intentionally intimidate or harass a cyclist by threatening physical injury or throwing an object.

- A new prohibition on reckless operation of a bicycle in a manner that could "endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property," also a misdemeanor.

- Specific rules for riding bicycles on sidewalks, including a requirement that the cyclist dismount "when the number of pedestrians using the sidewalk renders bicycle riding on the sidewalk unsafe."

- Clarification that motorists at intersections must yield to oncoming cyclists when turning left and cannot cut off cyclists traveling in the same direction when turning right.

The ordinances were recommended by the 10-member Boise Cycling Safety Task Force formed by Mayor Dave Bieter after the deaths of three cyclists last summer.