Sophomore mechanical engineering major Jillian Helms enjoys riding her bike to and from campus.

“I bike around all the time,” Helms said.

But when it comes to drinking and biking, Helms prefers to stay safe and keep her consumption to a minimum.

“A glass of wine or a beer and I will get on my bike,” Helms said. “Multiple drinks though? No.”

According to Helms, drinking and riding among Boise residents is a frequent occurrence in areas where bars are plentiful.

“I live downtown and I know that happens a lot. I think it is a better alternative but if you are riding anywhere close to traffic and people, it’s dangerous,” Helms said.

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an average of 769 cyclists deaths were caused by traffic accidents.

While drinking and riding can be potentially hazardous to motorists and bicyclists alike, Idaho driving under the influence laws do not specifically apply to cyclists.

“As far as bikes go and driving under the influence, there is not a code that applies to bicycles unless there is a motor (vehicle) involved,” said Lieutenant Rob Gallas of Boise police.

Gallas said bicyclists can be arrested for public intoxication if they are too drunk to ride safely or are creating a noticeable disturbance to others.

According to Gallas, the same alcohol law that applies to any intoxicated pedestrian on Boise’s streets is referred to when encountering citizens cycling under the influence .

“If we see folks riding down the road being hazardous to others, that code may apply if we can prove that person is intoxicated,” Gallas said.

According to Gallas, Boise police encourage safer alternatives to drinking and driving and aren’t out to bother those who can drink and ride safely.

“If folks are riding down the road and they are intoxicated but they are not presenting a danger or disruption or anything like that, we’re not going to be out jamming people up for being intoxicated,” Gallas said.

Senior English literature major Shaun Flynn thinks there are plenty of ways to get around Boise on a bike after downing some drinks.

“I just take the Greenbelt most of the time,” Flynn said.

Flynn explained he doesn’t like to ride after drinking in areas like downtown where traffic can pose a potential hazard to himself and others.

“I usually am super careful downtown and I have lights on my bike so I watch out for people once I get on the Greenbelt,” Flynn said. “To me, drinking and driving is far more dangerous than drinking and riding a bike, but you can still get yourself killed if you aren’t careful.”

Ryan Thorne
Ryan Thorne was born and raised in the beautiful city of Twin Falls, Idaho. He now lives in Boise where he enjoys being a student at Boise State University. As the Investigative News editor, Thorne is always hot on the trail of the next big story. In his free time, he can be found playing the guitar, reading, or exploring scenic outdoor Idaho. Follow him on Twitter @ryanthorne86 or friend him on Facebook.