The truth about the City of Boise's
"bike friendly"
ACHD candidates:
They are really the parking sensors candidates

City of Boise is trying to push through a new parking meter network system utilizing sensors and software from a company called Park Mobile which allows drivers to find parking places with their phones, which will encourage phone use while driving. The system will extract more revenue from the citizens while making the roads less safe.

We really don't need more drivers fumbling around with their phones

A huge danger while bike riding on the road is drivers distracted from the road by their smartphones. Park Mobile has an Android app, an Apple app, and a mobile web service available so people can locate places to park. So yes, it introduces new distractions in the car for drivers who already have too many. This is not good.

Governmnent should serve the people, not the other way around

Their primary goal of the parking sensors (“pucks”) is to increase revenue. They tie into services from Park Moble.

The networked parking meters are able to report the status of a parking meter, so parking enforcement officers know that a space has had or will soon have the time expire. With the sensors, they are able to detect whether a car has left, and zero out the remaining paid time, so they can effectively double collect at the meter when the next person pays to park.

If it's good enough for (name major city here), why not Boise?

It turns out large cities make errors, and bad national trends spread through cities, often with a follow-the-leader mentality. Let's take a look at “What's good enough for Chicago”. Chicago has red light cameras. The city recently took their red light camera violation time down 0.1 seconds to 2.9 seconds, which resulted in 77,000 additional traffic tickets and $7.7 million of billing (fines).

This is not to say that we can't learn from other cities, but learning what not to do is also advisable.

If the ACHD is bad, is the City of Boise good?

Hardly. This is not a one-or-the-other proposition. The ACHD is making mistakes. The fix is not to bring in puck-friendly candidates, however. It is to get citizens in office who are outside of the ACHD and City of Boise networks and are of the people, for the people.

The City of Boise is not immune to bad national trends. The separation of the roads from city hall is healthy, and is saving us from some bad national trends. Let's look at three common, bad national trends being followed by local governments across the country:

  1. Next-generation revenue enhancing parking systems with puck road sensors, networked reporting and logging, and smartphone apps that drivers will end up using while driving. ACHD is an obstacle to these systems, but the City of Boise is still trying to push them through anyway. We need to discourage drivers from using smartphones while driving rather than encouraging them.

  2. Red light camera systems, which raise revenue but decrease safety. ACHD controls the intersection lights, so the city can't expand easily into this area. (source:

  3. Militarized police vehicles. Boise has one they are borrowing from the federal government, but apparently that wasn't enough, so Boise City council approved $250,000 for another with a unanimous vote. Unfortunately, there is not much ACHD can do here, and so the city has arrived at this trend twice so far.

Technology that works against the people isn't progress

Intelligent, non-timer based intersection switching which improves the flow of traffic and detects people on bikes is progress over using old school timer systems. Parking systems that encourage people to use their phones in their cars, track where people have been, and offer in-app advertising as the Parkmobile system does are bad. Red light cameras are also bad.

The road forward

Counting on political insiders is not working. Citizens need to be smart and get involved. When I get the chance, I always encourage one of us to run for office. Unfortunately, as I saw part of the cycling community (thankfully not all of us) getting gamed by the City Hall, I realized one of us needed to step up and take on the challenge. Not being one to sign someone else up for anything, I decided to run. Here I am. I appreciate your support.

Longer term, we need more involvement from more of us actually running for office. We also need to be smarter about what information we send around as a case for bicycle friendly solutions, and what we support. We need to stop choosing one bad side over another bad side, and we need to be honest.

I appreciate your consideration and time. Let's move forward.

Brock Frazier
ACHD District 3 candidate
Bike Rider & Rickshawala
Technology developer with over a decade of usability experience
Rickshaw blog: