Citizens against street widening proposal holding ‘bike-in’ Monday night
IDAHO FALLS — A group of concerned citizens and property owners are making a stand against the city’s proposal to widen sections of South Boulevard in Idaho Falls with a public walk-in and bike-in event Monday evening.
“Our road is historically significant for Idaho Falls, and it’s residential. We just don’t want to see it turned into a thoroughfare for traffic because that will damage what’s been there for so long, and what makes people like South Boulevard,” Rebecca Long Pyper tells EastIdahoNews.com.
Pyper is a homeowner on South Boulevard, and one of the most outspoken critics of the city’s proposal.
During a public meeting June 5, the city proposed a long-term plan to possibly widen the road between 18th and 21st Streets in hopes of reducing traffic congestion and making certain intersections more accessible. White striping was added along the street last year to create a space for people to walk or bike.
If the plan is implemented, Long Pyper feels this would make the street dangerous for bike riders.
“Right now, the striping is so narrow for people on bikes that it’s scary for a lot of people to ride on the road,” she says. “If they’re going to increase traffic and possibly increase speeds, then we just feel that’s not a safe plan.”
The city will present their findings and research of South Boulevard during a public hearing August 15. Long Pyper collected 5,162 signatures from homeowners who are not in favor of the plan. The South Boulevard Bike-in & Walk-in is one more way to show the city how they feel.
“The whole point of doing this bike-in is to have a good visual that shows people riding in these bike lanes the way they are now just isn’t safe,” says Long Pyper.
Long Pyper is partnering with Idaho Falls Community Pathways and Fitzgerald’s Bicycles to host the event and is calling on anyone who is interested to join them in this effort.
“We’ll be riding up and down South Boulevard in the bike lanes,” Long Pyper says. “We’ll have two different options. One option will be for people to ride between 17th and Sunnyside. But if people want to go further than that, we’ll also welcome people to ride all the way down to the roundabout that connects with Broadway, and (ride) clear down to Sunnyside.”
The event will last until people don’t want to walk or ride anymore. The group is meeting at 7 p.m. between the intersections of 22nd and 23rd Streets. They’re expecting 100 people, but hope to surpass that amount. Long Pyper says there will be a police presence in the area to help keep participants safe.
“We hope that city leaders who are going to decide about the future of South Boulevard will really pay attention to the number of people who are speaking out and attending these events. There are quite a few people who feel strongly about the future of this street,” says Long Pyper.