BOISE -- The recent deaths of Victor Haskell and James Kellyin bicycle versus car accidents have many people asking 'Are the roads safe for cyclists?' And, if not, what can be done to make things safer? There are some changes in the works to improve the safety of our roads for cyclists and pedestrians. But, the people we talked to said the safety of the roads is mostly up to the people who use the roads.
Dave Fotsch is the director of Boise Bike Share. Like many in the cycling community, he's disturbed by the two recent fatal bicycle accidents. "We want to make sure that this city is the safest city in the country to bicycle. Clearly, from what's happened in the last week or so, it's not."
Changes are on the way. The Ada County Highway District will be changing some downtown Boise streets from one-way to two-way and adding bike lanes.
Fotsch says the infrastructure does need to catch up a little to Boise's large cycling community. But, he says, no number of changes by ACHD can truly assure cycling safety.
"Out of the control of ACHD is drivers who need to be aware that there are cyclists everywhere, that there are pedestrians everywhere, and you just need to look out for us," said Fotsch.
Would more laws for drivers help that awareness?
Boise Police Deputy Chief Pete Ritter says not necessarily, considering there are already plenty of laws in place to make the roads safe for everyone. It's just a matter of drivers and cyclists following them. "If everyone is obeying the law, it usually makes the situation much safer."
Ritter is also an avid cyclist, who regularly rides his bike on Boise's roads. "I don't feel unsafe, but I do some things, I think that, probably every cyclist should do."
Those "things" include riding with traffic (that's the law), staying off sidewalks (but even if you are on a sidewalk, riding with traffic), wearing bright colors to make yourself more visible, wearing a helmet, and planning your route to avoid streets that are not bicycle-friendly.
Ritter says one of the streets where they see a lot of bicycle accidents is Fairview Avenue. He also says they see most of those accidents in driveways where cyclists are riding on the sidewalk and drivers don't expect to see them as they pull in.
Ritter says his son was in an accident with a car while cycling in Utah. He was wearing a helmet and that probably saved his life. So, while there is no cycling helmet law in Idaho, it's highly recommended you wear one.