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Task force aims to review fatal and serious vehicle crashes in Boise

Boise Bicycle Project

The City of Boise created a task force in 2023 to look at the number of deaths and injuries caused by vehicle crashes. Called the Vision Zero Task Force, it includes Boise City Council Member Jimmy Hallyburton, Boise Bicycle Project Director of Bicycle Advocacy Nina Pienaar and Ada County Highway District Commission President Alexis Pickering.

The task force is in partnership with the City of Boise and ACHD.

Between 2005 and 2020, there were 125 fatal crashes and 1,914 incapacitating crashes in Idaho. 52% of those took place in intersections.

"This last year, 2023, we saw more traffic fatalities and more serious injuries in Boise, Idaho, across the country than we’ve seen for the most part in history,” said Hallyburton. “And so you’re seeing a higher number of people out there walking and biking, getting hit, victims of traffic violence.”

ACHD is in charge of managing, maintaining and building out the infrastructure for Ada County, excluding the state transportation system. The Board of Commissioners is made up of five members that are elected by residents

“With the growth we’re experiencing, the types of behaviors that we're seeing as well in drivers, it definitely needs us to really re-engineer our roads for safety first and not convenience,” said Pickering.

Some of the roads in Boise and Ada County were built with different means of transportation in mind compared to today. Pickering said now there is a different mindset about how we move people.

This is where the Boise Bicycle Project steps in. Pienaar has been working with Hallyburton and Pickering to make the streets a safe space for people on bikes.

“There comes a point in every city, and they have to make a choice whether they're going to become a bike/ped city for the people. Or are they going to continue down the path? That's maybe not the right path. And I really, truly believe that we're on that cusp right now. And that change is happening.”
Nina Pienaar

One initiative the task force did last year is a Leading Pedestrian Interval. With this, when a person presses the pedestrian button, there is a lead time so they are further into the crosswalk before the turn light turns green, giving the pedestrian the priority.

The Federal Highway Administration says LPIs can reduce pedestrian crashes by 13%. ACHD says they have LPIs at 50 intersections, and they targeted State Street and 11th Street, as well as other big intersections where there have been a lot of near misses.

Pickering said they are going to be approving another 10 intersections in the next couple of weeks.

How LPI works (TL 5 distance on crosswalk to clear total width of all moving lanes; PL 5 distance on crosswalk to clear parking and merging lane, if any).
Leading Pedestrian Interval: Assessment and Implementation Guidelines
Semantic Scholar
How LPI works (TL 5 distance on crosswalk to clear total width of all moving lanes; PL 5 distance on crosswalk to clear parking and merging lane, if any).

To help with bicycle advocacy, the Boise Bicycle Project holds monthly workshops where people learn how to be better bike advocates. The workshops include testimonies and training so people can learn to communicate with others to improve biking conditions and create a safe and more accessible environment.

The workshops are open to the public and are for anyone who wants to learn more about bike advocacy, changing the city we live in and build self-enforcing streets.

With the weather set to start getting warmer soon, kids are going to start walking and riding their bikes to school, and people will get out of their cars a little bit more. After several fatal and serious car crashes in 2023, Hallyburton said people are afraid and they're thinking about those tragedies.

"The bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure have to be better than they were designed before in the past."

If you want to get involved in thinking about streets, infrastructure and safety, you can join your local neighborhood association or look at projects that are coming up on the ACHD website. People can testify and engage with the ACHD team as they design the project during open houses and filling out surveys.

And of course, be an alert driver and look for people riding their bikes, walking or running on the sidewalks and the streets.

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