The mission of the Idaho Walk Bike Alliance is to promote active transportation as healthy, safe and reliable for all Idahoans.
We envision a transportation system throughout Idaho that supports and encourages walking, bicycling, and active transportation which includes:
- A seamless infrastructure network including streets, sidewalks, crossings, and shared-use pathways.
- Transportation planning decisions which incorporate active transportation at the state, regional, and local levels.
- A transportation financing system in which bicycle and pedestrian transportation receive a fair share of funding so Idaho communities can build and maintain a great cycling/walking system.
- A comprehensive program at the state level for active transportation which includes equality, engineering, enforcement, education, encouragement and evaluation.
Idaho Walk Bike History
On April 23, 2009, a group of people convened at Boise State University for Idaho’s first ever “Statewide Conference on Active Transportation.” Participants came from all corners of Idaho and included representatives from 17 local advocacy groups, three state agencies and eight local government/transportation planning agencies. All had come prepared to address whether it was time to form a statewide advocacy group. “It was electrifying,” said George Knight, who organized the conference, “to have all these advocates gathered in the same room. Their vision was clear. They foresaw a statewide organization that would give local advocacy for walking and biking its strongest voice possible.”
After a day of discussion and brainstorming, it was agreed that there ought to be a statewide group whose objectives would include:
• help people change car trips into bicycle and walking trips;
• assist local groups accomplish needed changes to local ordinances;
• facilitate the reinstatement of Transportation Enhancement funding, to ensure bicycle and pedestrian facilities were not only funded, but built;
• advocate for state law to establish a Complete Streets policy;
• aid the development of a statewide Bicycle Route system;
• advocate for inclusion of bicycle and pedestrian safety and operation components in school curricula, driver education, and driver licensing exams.
Impetus from the Statewide Conference inspired a working group of seven people to form the organization that became incorporated in October of 2009 as an Idaho nonprofit, called Idaho Pedestrian and Bicycle Alliance, (IPBA).
Building Capacity and Permanence: (2010 – present)
The seven founding Directors met monthly, wrote bylaws, set up a membership structure, and began recruiting members. A vision was established, and strategic goals and objectives were set.
IWBA gained respect and visibility throughout the state. Additional grant money was procured, allowing the organization to open an office in downtown Boise within walking distance of the Idaho State Capitol building. IWBA hired a full-time Executive Director, and half-time Executive Assistant.
In March 2014, the board changed its name to Idaho Walk Bike Alliance. At the same time IWBA hosted Idaho’s first Legislative Bike Walk Luncheon. Seven bi-partisan legislators attended. IWBA also hosted two legislative bicycle rides; open to IWBA members so that they could ask questions of their lawmakers and debate issues in a non-traditional, casual way.
We began building a history of successful influence with the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD). When we first learned that the Community Choices for Idaho grant program was unsupported by ITD executives, we launched a Statewide Advocacy Campaign, encouraging Idaho communities to write or call their District board members thanking them for their support of the Community Choices program and encouraging the ITD board to increase staff and resources. Our campaign generated more letters than the ITD Board had ever received over any one issue.
As we continue to be a voice for Idaho communities, IWBA has directly caused a substantial oversubscription of applications for Community Choices for Idaho grants. We are now advocating as a stronger voice for pedestrians across the state, and actively promoting a vibrant Safe Routes to Schools program in Idaho.
The Future: (2015- 2020)
Trends across the country are revealing a preference toward communities that value and plan for increasing numbers of people who choose to walk and bike. These communities, such as Boise, Portland, Salt Lake City and Anchorage are seeing a surge in their local economies. Home values go up, access to a skilled work force increases, the quality of life improves as cities acknowledge the wave of the future. Idaho Walk Bike Alliance is poised to ride this wave and generate a few of our own.
The bottom line is we want more people to be able to walk and/or ride their bicycles more often. We believe walkers and bicyclists have the right to safe passage, true connectivity and convenience on our way to work, to school, to shop, to visit friends and family, or simply for the pleasure of movement. The benefits are significant and wide-ranging for all. The future is now.