Tackling some of the most pressing environmental issues Idahoans face today can often feel overwhelming, but sometimes – the solution is as easy as riding a bike. In fact, those in the Treasure Valley can ride their bicycle to this weekend’s Goathead Fest and tackle two environmental problems at once. 

Since 2007, Boise Bicycle Project (BBP) has worked to promote the personal, social, and environmental benefits of bicycling. Through inclusive access to refurbished bicycles, repair, and educational experiences, the organization is building a stronger bicycling community in the City of Trees. When you look at all the benefits of bicycling, it’s easy to understand why. There are dozens of benefits to bicycling, especially if you are a bike commuter. 

Bike commuting is great for both your physical and mental health. It is an easy way to include a workout in your daily schedule, and can often be less stressful than driving. Off-road trails and bike lanes allow you to skip the traffic, to be amongst more trees and birds, and you can arrive at work full of energy before riding off stress on your way home. It also saves you money – maintenance costs for your car and gas bills will go down if you commute by bicycle.

Commuters on the Boise Greenbelt. Kelly Hewes photo.

Pumping the pedals is also good for those around you. Idaho’s largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions is our transportation sector. Driving less means less air pollution that’s harmful to everyone’s health – so getting out of the car and onto a bike means you are helping keep our air clean. 

Having bike-friendly communities also helps create a more sustainable and equitable transportation system that is accessible to more people. But just as important as getting people on their bikes is ensuring they are safe while riding, which is why BBP works to improve cycling infrastructure and safety for cyclists. This includes work on bike lanes, protected intersections, bike parking, and more.

There’s still much work to be done before residents can safely cycle in every Ada County community, but with hundreds of miles of bike facilities and fantastic weather much of the year, the sky’s the limit for bicycling opportunities in Ada County.

There is however, a pesky enemy lining some trails and roadways in Ada County. This weekend, you have the chance to put your own pedal power into tackling this issue for bicyclists – because this problem for bicyclists also happens to also be an invasive plant species and issue for the environment.

From Pedaling to Pulling: Goodbye Goatheads

Every year, BBP activates the bicycling community through goathead collection and the Goathead Fest. Goatheads are an invasive species that can produce up to 5,000 horned nutlets on a single plant. Those nutlets can cause a lot of trouble, latching onto animal fur, shoes, bikes, cars, trucks and more to spread their seedlings, wreaking havoc wherever they go. If you have a dog, you’ve likely pulled these nutlets from their paws. For bicyclists, goatheads pop bicycle tires, which is why BBP is working to clear our pathways from these pests once and for all. Since 2018, BBP’s Goathead Fest has led to the collection of more than 7.5 tons of goatheads. For directions on how to join the efforts and pick goatheads yourself, click here.

But Goathead Fest isn’t just about tackling an issue, it’s also about celebrating community. According to BBP’s website, Goathead Fest is a “wonderfully weird celebration of Boise’s bicycle culture & Goathead removal around the city.”

This year’s Goathead Fest is on Saturday, August 19. The one-day festival kicks off with a pre-launch party at 10:30 am in Cecil D. Andrus Park. It is followed by a bicycle parade that begins and ends on the steps of the Idaho State Capitol Building, where cyclists dress up in costumes and roll through the streets for about 20 minutes. After the parade, festival grounds are filled with live music, artwork, food trucks, beer from Lost Grove Brewing, a costume contest, and more. For more information on the festival, head to Boise Bicycle Project’s website. Until then, we’ll see you in the bike lane!