You’ve seen roadside memorials - a cross or flowers that says someone died at that location. Now, the Ada County Highway District (ACHD) wants to regulate those displays.
ACHD commissioners asked a group to write some rules, and Wednesday morning the commission will decide if those are ready to advance.
Currently, people place the markers without permission. ACHD only removes them if they’re problematic, but spokesman Craig Quintana says they’re becoming problems too often.
“First and foremost we’re after safety,” Quintana says. “It would be a horrible irony for someone to memorialize a loved one and then go and put someone else at risk.”
Quintana thinks some memorials have been so distracting they’ve already posed safety hazards.
“I know some of them have been safety hazards,” he says. “We had one where we had a large red bow in close proximity to the signal. Obviously one of the major colors when you’re trying to communicate to drivers is the red light.”
The proposed rules include getting an inspection for each memorial. There would also be restrictions on size and how long they can stay. ACHD commissioners could reject the rules, send them back for changes or send them on for a public hearing later this month.
If the rules get a hearing, commissioners will likely hear from members of the cycling community. Boise area cyclists put up white-painted bikes known as ghost bikes in honor of riders killed in traffic. Dave Fotsch directs the Boise Green Bike sharing program and is on the board of the Treasure Valley Cycling Alliance. Fotsch says ghost bikes are an important symbol and don’t pose safety hazards.
“The people placing these bikes have taken great pains to make sure that they are out of the way, but still provide a visible reminder that a cyclist died at this location,” he says.
Fotsch is also a member of the volunteer group that advises ACHD on bike policy. He says that group has made its objections to the proposed rules known to commissioners and hopes they will listen.
As the rules are written, ghost bikes may be too big to be allowed at all, and if they could be set up, would likely have to be removed after a year.
“We want those memorials to stay in place as a permanent reminder that a cyclist died here unnecessarily,” Fotsch says.
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