Biking in Boise

Biking in BoiseThere are a lot of ways to get around when you need to be somewhere. Sometimes in a city (Say for an example, the city of Boise) the best and most economical way of getting around is by riding a bike. For most of the state of Idaho, a bicycle is not going to get you far. There is a lot of space between things that you might want to get to and it is far enough that you are only going to try and make that on a bike if you are a cross-country cyclist betting ready for a major tournament. That is probably not most people, though I suppose there is always a chance. This is not the case for a city like Boise. The area is more spread out than other cities, but things are still pretty close together and you can consider getting from place to place on a bike without much trouble. However, if you are not already an avid biker of Boise, there are some things you should know before you hop on your double-wheeled machine and blast out onto the streets.

First, we should talk about general safety. We will get into laws a little later, but the basics are just slightly more important than the more complex system of rules that govern biking in a city. A lot of people think helmets are optional when you get on a bike. Technically, there are places where that is true, and you do not have to wear a helmet. Basically though, for your own good, you have to wear a helmet. Otherwise, your brain is at risk of significant injury, and that's not a risk worth taking. Beyond that, if you want to keep all of your skin, different kinds of pads are important as well. This is not as essential as a helmet, but sometimes when you crash a bike you do not come to a complete standstill immediately. That means the potential to do a lot of scraping across the asphalt or sidewalk and that tends to leave scrapes and bruises, which does not feel good. So, wear the appropriate equipment to keep yourself safe. Lights for your bike are also things you need to consider and find a good option for. Maybe you do not plan to do any night riding, but that does not mean it will not happen. Sometimes it is illegal to be out in the daylight without having lights and reflectors on your bike.

Now, it is time to get into some laws. There are a few you should specifically know, both as a cyclist and a driver. First, there is one of the obvious things to know. If you are biking on the street with cars, you have to move with the rest of traffic. Never, ever ride against the flow of traffic. It is dangerous both because you and the cars you are going to be encountering do not have as much time to react to each other and because the chance is good you are going to gum up the works of traffic and get in the way of other cyclists, putting them or yourself in danger when one of you has to swerve out of the way. Basically, if you are on the road with the cars, you functionally become a car and need to obey those rules. This is pretty much the rule everywhere, and Boise is not an exception. Ride with the cars or ride on the sidewalk, because you are pretty much free to do what you need to do as long as you keep it on the concrete and not the asphalt. If you cannot follow these rules, stay off your bike.

One weird rule you should know about is that stop signs and red lights are treated differently for cyclists than drivers in Boise. If you roll up to a stoplight in your car with a cyclist and then the cyclist runs the red light, they are actually obeying the law. If you are on a bike, you can treat a stop sign as a yield sign, choosing not to stop if no one is coming, and you can treat a stop light like a stop sign. You always have to stop, but if the way is clear, you do not have to wait. Make sure you are not pulling out in front of an oncoming car, but you are legally allowed to move forward after stopping. This does not mean you have the right to drive into speeding traffic and have right of way. Not only is that not your legal right, but it is almost certainly going to increase your chances of getting injured.

A last to thing to keep in mind when you are on a bike is the pedestrians around you and in front of you. You are a fairly large danger to them and it is your responsibility to make sure they know you are near and might be about to run into them if they move to the side. You do this by verbally announcing what you are doing and that you are about to pass a pedestrian. Shout out what side you are going to pass them on and if for whatever reason that is not an option, do whatever you can to announce yourself. Make at least some noise so that they know you are coming. That way the people walking or running around you can make informed decisions about what to do to not get crashed into by a human and their metal machine.

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