Assembly approves scaled-back bikeway standards bill
The California Assembly has approved a completely rewritten version of our bill to modernize bikeway standards in California and sent it on to the Senate.
Proposed cycle track in San Francisco
Earlier this month the Assembly Transportation Committee amended Assembly Bill 819, authored by Fremont Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski, by removing our proposal to allow communities to follow standards such as those developed by the National Association of City Transportation Officials.
In its place the committee required Caltrans to create a process for authorizing the experimental use of bikeway designs not contained in Caltrans' increasingly outmoded Highway Design Manual, which governs local bikeway design in California. Such a process would likely include collection of data to evaluate the designs. Caltrans estimates the cost of implementing the process at $240,000.
We don't think California needs an experimentation process in order to implement modern facilities like cycle tracks, bike boxes, and raised and buffered bike lanes that have already been approved and implemented by transportation officials in such major American cities as New York City, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Austin and Portland, Ore. Yet we share the Assembly's interest in gathering data that can help us design even safer facilities.
Our next step is to work with Caltrans and the Legislature to define a process that will free California communities to create the safest possible bikeways while providing the data we need for developing better bikeway standards.
Meet John Ciccarelli, a new voice for bicyclists
Last month Caltrans appointed transportation engineer and former CBC board member John Ciccarelli and Bryan Jones, Carlsbad's deputy
transportation director, to two new seats on the California Traffic Control Devices Committee, which sets Caltrans standards for traffic signals, signs and pavement markings such as traffic lanes, bike lanes and crosswalks.
Caltrans added the seats to give so-called "nonmotorized" interests, including bicycling and walking, a voice in committee decisions. Caltrans acted in response to Assembly Bill 345, the legislation we sponsored last year to add those two seats. We suspended the bill when Caltrans reformed the committee on its own.
The committee's first meeting since the appointments will be on Feb. 16 in San Diego. This is the first of a two-part article to introduce the two new committee members.
"There's a rapid pace of adoption of European-inspired innovations around the U.S.," Ciccarelli said recently. "Some of them translate directly and others require some consideration based on differences in context."
A recent transplant to San Francisco, Ciccarelli is eager to gain a new perspective on bicycle safety in a city "that's on the forefront" of accommodating this surge in bicycling, and where morning bicycle traffic on Market Street exceeds 400 bikes per hour.
"I just used the Alemany buffered bike lane on the way to the farmer's market and I loved that facility," he said. "It's nice to have the comfortable space separate from expressway-speed traffic." Buffered bike lanes are normal bike lanes with extra space on the edges. With the extra space, "it's very easy to support two-abreast cycling and passing, supporting that social aspect of cycling without creating a space that's attractive to illegal driving," said Ciccarelli.
"No other city, except perhaps Portland or New York, has had such a rapid increase in bicycle volumes. San Francisco is a great place to be to inform my service on the CTCDC."
NEXT MONTH: Meet CTCDC member Bryan Jones
Proposed state park closures threaten bicycle access
This summer the state could begin closing 70 state parks, many of them popular for bike touring, bike camping and mountain biking. That's why we've joined the campaign to help keep them open.
Nearly a third of the state parks that provide special bike camping sites would be closed.
There's a lot at stake for bicyclists. Eighteen parks could be closed along the Pacific Coast Bike Route, an international bike touring destination and California's only state-designated bike route, including two in Mendocino County that are crucial stops for bike tourists. Five parks popular for mountain biking, including Annadel, Brannan Island, China Camp, Henry Coe and Sugarloaf, are also on the closure list. Nineteen of the 58 state parks that offer low-cost "hike or bike" campsites for those arriving by bike or on foot are set to be closed.
Tell your legislators and Gov. Jerry Brown there are better solutions to the state's budget crisis than closing state parks. Make the case in person at the 10th annual Park Advocacy Day on March 20 in Sacramento. If you own a business that would suffer due to the proposed state park closures, join the California State Parks Foundation's "Closing Parks is Bad for Business" campaign.