Greenbelt? Bike Path? Path? What is it?
Part of the confusion here is a matter of semantics. The terms greenbelt and path and walking path and bicycle path have been used interchangeably and there are some pre-conceived notions that need to be clarified! Just because an area is called a path or a greenbelt, does not mean that it is not a bicycle path... or vice versa! The greenbelt in the Boise metro area is the land designated for public access along the river.
Currently, Garden City claims that the "Greenbelt" detours on city streets through three residential subdivisions to connect with Eagle's system. Personally, I find it ludicrous to call a city street near residences and businesses the "greenbelt." Shouldn't the greenbelt be a more natural area? Maybe along a river? Maybe even surrounded by GREEN?
Per the documents you will find at the Documents tab, the Greenbelt Master Plans says that the greenbelt can contain paths, pedestrian paths, bicycle paths, bridges, parks, etc. Just because a reference to a path does not specify "bicycle" or "pedestrian," that meaning is not excluded!
- Just because a path is paved with asphalt, does not necessarily make it a bicycle path.
- Just because a path is compacted gravel, does not necessarily make it a pedestrian path.
- Just because a path is a path, does not make it a greenbelt.
What about Gravel?
- After the asphalt path fell to pieces due to tree roots and improper construction, it was suggested by the developer and by Garden City that compacted gravel might be a good alternative.
- Department of Lands agreed as long as the size of the chips was small enough to provide a hard surface that would accommodate bicycles, as well as pedestrians.
- Department of Lands also required that sufficient width be provided adjacent to the path to allow for widening at some future time. The requirement was for a 15'corridor.
We wholeheartedly concur! A gravel path is perfectly ok. A gravel surace was actually approved by the Department of Lands as long as the size of the gravel was small enough to compact to a hard enough surface to be suitable for bikes!
- The appearance is more natural than asphalt in a woodlands setting.
- Tree roots will not be so disruptive.
- It will be less expensive to construct.
- It will be less expensive to maintain.
- It will be in line with City of Eagle Greenbelt standards.
Time & Money
- The cost of re-tooling the Riverside Village path for bicycles would have been MUCH less than paving the Wakefield detour along an irrigation ditch.
- Opening the path to bicycles is much more feasible and less expensive than the bridge GC proposes (and expects someone else to fund) across the river divert cyclists to the south side of the river.
The 1997 Garden City Greenbelt Master Plan - Bravo!
This is actually a GREAT plan, with lots of support for the bike path within the greenbelt, or directly along the edges, as it was originally mandated and promised, but never delivered. Take a close look at this document (you can view it at the Documents tab) and realize how well it supports mixed use and also supports the goal of connectivy along the river all the way from Lucky Peak to Eagle Island State Park. Garden City should NOT be the bully that stands in the way between Boise and Eagle and refuses to budge.
If you read it carefully, you will see that this plan never states that the Riverside Village path is pedestrian only. In fact, at one point it states that the Riverside Village Greenbelt path will eventually connect to Boise to the East and Eagle to the West. The only reference to Riverside Village as a walking path is on ONE map, and it is nothing more than a label that was slapped on at the discretion of some Garden City employee. We have scoured thirty years of city records and can find no official designation that makes this path pedestrian only. In fact, even the City Council Agenda item in 1996 for approval of the Settlement Agreement refers to "Riverside Village Bike Path."
But, what about the birds?
There is a study on disturbance to bald eagles from both walking and cycling along the Boise River. It was conducted over a two year period of winters and provided surprising results.
- Birds in urban areas become accustomed fairly easily to humans and do not startle often at human disturbance.
- When they DO startle, the least disturbance by humans was that of an object that approached at a fairly fast and steady pace (like bicycles!)
- The most intrusive disturbances, in order of severity, measured by distance at flight, are by...
- fisherman, then
- walkers and "pointers" who stop to look at them, then
- brisk walkers and joggers,
- and finally, people on bicycles!
(Spahr, R. 1990. Factors affecting the distribution of bald eagles and effects of human activity on bald eagles wintering along the Boise River. MS Thesis, Boise State Univ.. 94 pp.)
How shameful - how sad!
The description of the Boise River Greenbelt by the Boise State University Biology Department ends with this sad comment upon Garden City's lack of support for the intent of the Boise River Greenbelt...
"The political history of Garden City's Plantation and Riverside Village developments have for over a decade prevented the completion of the Greenbelt and the public's access to the river."
For all of the above very good reasons and many others,
let's fix this path and correct a THIRTY YEAR WRONG!