Ada County Highway District

ACHD's Road Wizard Sunday, August 20, 2017 ACHD's Road Wizard

Truck drivers can legally ignore a "no compression brakes" sign on Ten Mile Mile Road near Ustick Road; extra-wide right-hand turn lanes up and down Broadway Avenue in Boise; reader suggests painting "BMUFL" on roads instead of using sharrows.

The Road Wizard Replies

Dear Road Wizard: On Ten Mile Road there are two "no compression brakes" signs. One is just north of the freeway interchange, where no one lives. The other one is just south of Chinden Boulevard, where currently no one lives either. We live just south of Ustick Road, with Ten Mile just behind us. All day there is the sound of trucks using their compression brakes roaring behind our house. I don't think it's too much to ask to have a sign put up about a quarter of a mile south of Ustick. Even if only some drivers follow the rule, that would be an improvement.

Road Wizard:

Compression brakes can sound like a jackhammer. The noise happens when the compressed air that is part of the brake's operation is released. Also known as "Jake" brakes, they do a better job of stopping large vehicles quickly compared to regular brakes.

ACHD has posted "no compression brakes" signs where drivers need reminding and on roads like Ten Mile where truck drivers will likely be entering the local street system.

However, the signs on Ten Mile are no longer enforceable. When they first went up, Ten Mile was likely still part of Ada County, which outlaws compression brake use. The area is now within Meridian city limits where the use of compression brakes isn't prohibited.

Even when signs are posted in no-Jake-brakes areas, the rule is tough to enforce. Some drivers ignore the signs and police have to be within earshot to identify offenders.

Dear Road Wizard: I was wondering what the deal is with the extra-wide right-hand lanes up and down Broadway. Is the extra space meant for parking? Really long right-turn lanes? Space for large trucks going into Boise from the freeway? More than once I've seen confused drivers mistake it for a third driving lane.

Road Wizard:

The section of Broadway between Beacon Street and Boise Avenue is where the extra space can be found. There is on-street parking allowed in this section to access businesses, so perhaps parking was why the road was built wider in the past. But these days not many people park along that stretch of road.

The book "Boise, An Illustrated History" includes a picture of a passenger rail line along/on Broadway Avenue in about 1912. Boise State University's "Understanding Boise Through Maps" points to a 1917 map that shows a trolley line across the Broadway Bridge heading south. It's possible that the road was paved unusually wide where those transportation services once traveled.

Dear Road Wizard: My point was, "sharrows" have no meaning at all because motorists don't know what they mean. Just ask them. It renders them useless. That causes unnecessary and dangerous conflicts. BMUFL painted in the road means very simply, "Bikes May Use Full Lane." Everyone knows exactly what that means and it doesn't need to mean anything else. Simple.


Road Wizard:

In the August 6 column, I assumed that Bryan suggested posting more "Bikes May Use Full Lane" street signs, not painting the message on the road itself.

Some people may not understand what a sharrow is (a white bicycle with arrows painted in the traffic lane to indicate lane sharing), but I would expect even fewer would grasp the meaning of "BMUFL." Sharrows also guide bicyclists to the recommended riding position, which may not require using the full traffic lane.

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