Bike lane hurdle lingers
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.