Boise’s Police Department is New Bike Friendly Business; Guru’s Donut Shop Isn’t Far Behind

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By Charles Pekow — Cities that have pushed the Bicycle Friendly Business (BFB) program by now have probably picked all the low hanging fruit. Bicycle and other athletic companies, health outfits, breweries and landscape/architecture firms have been climbing on board all along. Yet the two cities with the most BFBs are continuing to push the program in new ways. Fort Collins, CO now leads the nation with 60, including five picked up so far this year in the winter and spring announcements.

Second place belongs to Boise, ID at 46, as the Boise Bicycle Project (BBP) keeps coming up with imaginative ways to expand, including four new ones and one honorable mention this year.

But in addition to picking up a brewery and bike shop, Boise added its police department. And the honorable mention went to a doughnut shop.

“We are starting to see a wide variety of businesses coming from these places,” notes Amelia Neptune, Bicycle Friendly America Director for the League of American Bicyclists (LAB).

A Boise Police Department (BPD) substation won silver, a step above bronze but below gold. “Before we got their application, we were aware of BPD because they came up in other applications,” Neptune says. “Boise State University (BSU) mentioned partnering with them on education” and other aspects of its successful application.

The winning station employs 17 people but has indoor parking for 20 bicycles. Boise's other police station lies in a remote location, not very accessible for bicycles or fit for a BFB award, explains officer Blake Slater.

The police impressed LAB with its efforts to work with the community. It takes an active role working with BBP, BSU and the Treasure Valley Cycling Alliance on projects and the mayor's bicycle advisory committee, which gives city government a good ear when it comes to making infrastructure changes or adding stop signs.

The police work not only with BBP and BSU but with the Treasure Valley Cycling Alliance. The department helps with the local YMCA's Safe Routes to School, teaching all third graders about riding safely. Two staffers have earned league cycling instructor status from LAB. BPD organizes “Bike with the Cops” and “Pedal with the Police” rides around the popular Greenbelt bikepath along the Boise River, including showing safety techniques. “We always finish with ice cream; the best thing on a hot day,” Slater says.

The police are working on a ticket diversion program where cyclists given traffic tickets can attend a safety class in lieu of paying a fine. Slater says, however, that unless cyclists cause an accident, they don't get many tickets, as state law allows them to treat stop signs as yield signs and red lights as stop signs. A few get cited for riding the wrong way or failing to yield, though.

And if BPD wants to earn gold or higher status? It could get more cops to ride to work and gather more data on local ridership, LAB suggests. Slater says the department is hoping to open a new building next year that will allow people to cycle in and park, which the current structure doesn't allow. He adds that the department is looking at better ways to extrapolate useful bike-related data from its files.

Guru Donuts

Meanwhile, Guru Donuts, a local business and new applicant on Main Street in Boise, applied for the first time and got Honorable Mention, not quite good enough for BFB.

“They impressed us because they have bike events,” such as participating in Bike to Work Day, Neptune says. The doughnut hole in the application? “The reason we didn't feel they were (a BFB) yet is is they don't have formal bike parking. Bikes are allowed inside but they don't have secure bike parking. They also don't have any incentives yet” for employees to ride to work.” LAB also suggested offering discounts to customers who come in on bike.

Even without employee incentives, “a lot of the staff members ride our bikes to work because it is easier to access downtown by bike rather than try to find parking,” explains Guru Retail Manager Robyn Lieggi. “We like trying to be healthy for a doughnut shop. We exercise.” The store lies fairly close to the Greenbelt.

It would be nice to offer discounts to cyclists, but “its kind of tricky to carry around a bunch of doughnuts (by bicycle without the right equipment) but if you're on your bike on certain days, you get a free doughnut,” Lieggi says. Cyclists tend to like the cake doughnuts, she says.

But “they didn't send any samples along with their application,” Neptune notes.

 

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