Bike lane hur­dle lingers

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - LIAM DIL­LON liam.dil­lon@la­times.com Twit­ter: @dil­lon­liam

SACRA­MENTO — It might sound strange that one of the main im­ped­i­ments for bike lanes in Cal­i­for­nia is a state en­vi­ron­men­tal law, but it’s true.

The Cal­i­for­nia En­vi­ron­men­tal Qual­ity Act re­quires new projects to take into ac­count ef­fects on car con­ges­tion, and do­ing so has stymied bike lanes up and down the state for more than a decade.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Mon­day signed leg­is­la­tion al­low­ing cities to con­tinue sidestep­ping pro­vi­sions of CEQA when plan­ning for new bike lanes or paint­ing them on roads. But the mea­sure, Assem­bly Bill 1218 from As­sem­bly­man Jay Ober­nolte (R-Big Bear Lake), doesn’t do much to ad­dress the prob­lem.

Ober­nolte’s bill ex­tends for three years — un­til 2021 — CEQA ex­emp­tions for bike lane projects that have been on the books for the last few years. Cities have taken ad­van­tage of the ex­emp­tions only three times, ac­cord­ing to a leg­isla­tive anal­y­sis of the bill. Bicycle ad­vo­cates have said the mea­sures don’t go far enough be­cause they still re­quire cities to com­plete costly traf­fic stud­ies and hold pub­lic hear­ings.

In­stead, cy­clists have pinned their hopes on forth­com­ing reg­u­la­tions chang­ing how con­ges­tion is mea­sured un­der CEQA to fix the bike lanes prob­lem. The Brown ad­min­is­tra­tion be­gan writ­ing those reg­u­la­tions in 2013, but they’ve been re­peat­edly de­layed and aren’t ex­pected to be com­plete un­til next year.

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