Once again, CABO — the California Association of Bicycling Organizations, not to be confused with the California Bicycle Coalition — has come out in opposition to a measure that would benefit the overwhelming majority of bike riders in the state.
AB 1193 would legalize protected bike lanes, which are currently considered experimental under California law, creating a fourth class of bikeways in the state to go along with Class 1 off-road bike paths, Class 2 bike lanes, and Class 3 bike routes.
The bill, sponsored by the CBC, would require Caltrans to work with local jurisdictions to establish minimum safety requirements for protected, or separated, bike lanes, rather than rely on Caltrans’ antiquated rules that have severely limited innovation and safety.
I have no doubt CABO is sincere in their opposition, which appears to be based on maintaining the overly conservative Caltrans standards they helped create.
But their opposition stands in the way of encouraging more people to get on their bikes, and improving safety for all road users. And gives needless support to those in the legislature who oppose bicycling and bike infrastructure in general.
Instead of opposing a very good and necessary bill, they should find a way to support it. Or at the very least, stay neutral.
Or they will continue to find themselves out of step with most riders, and further marginalized in a state where the CBC has become the voice of mainstream bicycling.
Richard Risemberg asks what part of traffic calming doesn’t councilmember Gil Cedillo understand?
A Pasadena bike rider is assualted and robbed by passing motorists, possibly at gunpoint.
Nice. LA’s Milestone Rides prepares to ride from Vancouver to San Francisco.
San Diego City Beat goes drinking with BikeSD advocate Sam Ollinger.
The inaugural Big Bear Cycling Festival rolls at the end of next month.
A pipe bomb is found next to a Pacific Grove bike trail. The question is, did someone just hide it here, or were they targeting bike riders?
Good read, as Vice Sports says you can kill anyone with your car, as long as you don’t really mean it.
Great ideas never die. Okay, sometimes. But the self-inflating bike tire is back after a six year absence.
Utah will put rolling billboards on six semi-trucks to promote the state’s three-foot passing law. But will the drivers practice what they preach?
Two New Mexico bike riders find a missing 9-year old girl.
Biased much? A Denver TV station says cyclists are at fault in several bike vs car collisions, but fails to back it up in any way.
If you want to get away with murder, use a car. A Philadelphia judge acquits a driver of vehicular manslaughter for running down his bike-riding romantic rival.
A North Carolina bike lawyer explains why it’s often safer to ride abreast.
Paris’ Velib bike share system has added kids bikes to their rental fleet.
German bike rider poses for photos atop wrecked cars.
The Deutschland high court wisely rules that not wearing a helmet is not contributory negligence in the event of a collision; I’m told some American juries are starting to find otherwise.
Sidi unveils a new camo mountain bike shoe. You know, for all those cyclists who want to be even less visible when they ride. Then again, whenever I see someone wearing camo, I want to walk up to them and say “I can totally see you.”
And a Brit lawyer insists his client really is remorseful, despite saying “Shit happens, life goes on” after being convicted of killing a five-year old bike rider while driving at over twice the speed limit.
Big heart, that guy.
Thanks for the mention!
Re Philly: The driver was going 15 mph but was unable to stop before dragging the victim 70 feet. Those are some slow reflexes.
Here’s CABO’s reasons for opposing AB 1193. We want improved bike facilities, just not a freeforall by clueless Transportation Engineers more concerned with LOS than bicycling.
The California Association of Bicycling Organizations, the association of California’s bicycle clubs, would like to register its support of your AB 1193 provided it is amended, as proposed, to change the term “protected bike lanes” to “separated bikeways.” We are greatly concerned, however, about another amendment to make the minimum safety design criteria established in Streets and Highways Code §890.6 optional, and to eliminate the experimental process associated with them. This amendment resembles the bill as introduced, and our objections to it are the same as they were then. Eliminating this requirement would be an enormous mistake. If this amendment is included, our position changes to strong opposition.
The bill’s sponsor, the California Bicycle Coalition (CBC), asks why local agencies shouldn’t have the same latitude with respect to local bikeways as they have with respect to local roads. But this comparison, while it may seem attractive, overlooks a number of important points:
• Much as local agencies might prefer to have complete control over their own streets and roads, this is not the case. For instance, cities and counties may enact traffic regulations only as expressly authorized (Vehicle Code §21), and they must adhere to uniform standards and specifications for all traffic control devices (signs, signals, and markings) (Vehicle Code §21401).
These provisions are important to insure uniformity, predictability, and best practices, but innovation is not neglected. The California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices includes a well-defined procedure for agencies to experiment with new or improved devices. The committee that oversees these experiments, and advises Caltrans generally on traffic control devices, gives local agencies a say by including representatives from the League of California Cities and California State Association of Counties.
• When it comes to physical design of streets and highways, nearly all California agencies voluntarily adopt the Caltrans Highway Design Manual as their design guide. The HDM’s standards are well-established, and traffic engineers are thoroughly trained in their use. The outcome is therefore generally uniform and consistent, and there is no need to mandate compliance (other than through funding mechanisms).
• With bikeways, on the other hand, the situation is much less predictable. Most traffic engineers receive little or no training in designing bicycle facilities. Many may be qualified to do so, but it cannot be assumed that all are or that they are familiar with proper standards to follow. That is why the Legislature enacted the California Bikeways Act in 1975 (now called the California Bicycle Transportation Act, Streets and Highways Code §§890 et seq). This act begins:
It is the intent of the Legislature, in enacting this article, to establish a bicycle transportation system. It is the further intent of the Legislature that this transportation system shall be designed and developed to achieve the functional commuting needs of the employee, student, business person, and shopper as the foremost consideration in route selection, to have the physical safety of the bicyclist and bicyclist’s property as a major planning component, and to have the capacity to accommodate bicyclists of all ages and skills.
The Legislature implemented this intent, among other ways, by directing Caltrans, in cooperation with county and city governments, to develop minimum safety design criteria for bikeways, and to develop uniform signs and specifications for traffic control devices for bikeways. It further directed agencies responsible for bikeways to use these minimum safety design criteria and uniform specifications.
• These standards and specifications have been enormously beneficial in insuring that bikeway designs adhere to accepted safety standards. But there is no enforcement mechanism other than funding procedures or liability. A few traffic engineers who may be either unaware of or indifferent to these standards have consequently been responsible for thousands of examples of California bikeways that violate basic minimum safety principles, either in geometric design (widths, routing, especially at intersections) or in traffic controls (signs, signals and markings). Often, for no valid engineering reason, or worse still, for reasons contrary to sound traffic movements, these bikeways deviate from mandatory standards in ways that expose cyclists to greater crash risk.
What’s needed is better compliance mechanisms for standards, not greater latitude to deviate from them arbitrarily. We don’t need more such bad designs.
• The California Bikeways Act, however, had one important shortcoming. Until recently, cities and counties were not permitted to deviate from mandatory bikeway standards in order to experiment with modified, improved, or new designs. This issue was successfully addressed in the last session by AB 819 (Wieckowski), co-sponsored by CABO and CBC, which directed Caltrans to create an experimental process similar to the existing one for traffic control devices. This process would simultaneously have allowed for creative and innovative design improvements, collected valuable data for evaluating them and eventually incorporating them into standards, and relieved local agencies of the threat of liability for experimentation. Unfortunately, Caltrans has refused to implement the experimental process in any meaningful way.
• Furthermore, Streets and Highways Code §890.6 requires bikeway design criteria to be updated biennially, or more often, as needed. But this has not been done, despite repeated requests to Caltrans from CABO, CBC, and the California Bicycle Advisory Committee (CBAC) (appointed by Caltrans to advise it on bicycle matters). State bikeway standards have fallen behind those in other documents such as the nationally accepted AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities. It seems that Caltrans may finally be embarking on such an update process, but it is critical that it be founded on evidence-based technical review whose outcome is not predetermined.
Among CBAC’s responsibilities, as chartered by Caltrans, is to “provide input to Caltrans on designs, concepts, standards, and manuals related to bicycle facilities and for consideration to incorporate into existing Caltrans standards or manuals.” CBAC is also the body that provides the “cooperation with county and city governments” specified in Streets and Highways Code §890.6. It is therefore vital that CBAC play a role as bikeway standards are revised.
Proponents of this amendment might anticipate that deregulation will unleash a torrent of creativity and innovation. CABO and CBC have significant disagreements over bicycle facility design, but that is not even the issue here. The danger is the license granted to substandard, poorly conceived designs that neither CABO nor CBC would approve of.
We therefore urge you and the Legislature not to include such an amendment in AB 1193, and instead to influence Caltrans to update its design standards and to implement an effective experimental process. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.
We don’t know what position Caltrans might take on this bill. But we feel obligated to point out that in several recent decisions involving bicycling policy, Caltrans and its consultants did not seek the opinion of CABO or CBAC, and may therefore not be fully aware of all sides of these issues. Furthermore, it is also CBAC’s chartered responsibility to “Review proposed legislation related to bicycling.” Caltrans has not yet sought CBAC’s opinion on the radical changes that might be included in AB 1193. Decisions of this magnitude should not be made hastily, in a final policy committee hearing, over amendments that are not yet even in print.
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