Protected Bike Lane Bill Approved By Legislature, Awaiting Governor

With Governor Brown’s approval, protected bike lanes like these ones on San Francisco’s Market Street could become easier for cities to build. Photo: Melanie Curry/Streetsblog

A bill that would make it easier for California cities to build protected bike lanes was passed by both houses of the state legislature this week and only awaits Governor Jerry Brown’s signature.

The bill, A.B. 1193, was authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by the California Bicycle Coalition.

The bill serves several purposes. First and foremost, it requires Caltrans to establish engineering standards for protected bike lanes or “cycletracks,” a new category of bike lanes for cities to use.

At the same time, it removes a provision in the law that requires that any bike lane built in California adhere to Caltrans specifications, even if it is built on a local street that is not under Caltrans’ jurisdiction. This frees up local jurisdictions to choose other guidelines, such as the National Association of City Transportation Officials’ (NACTO) Urban Bikeway Design Guide, if the Caltrans standards do not adequately address local conditions.

Caltrans endorsed the NACTO Urban Street Design Guide earlier this year but has not adopted it, meaning that cities that want to build separated bike lanes must still go through a process to get an exemption.

Last-minute negotiations on the bill addressed concerns about liability by adding several conditions that have to be met before non-Caltrans criteria can be used. A “qualified engineer” must review and sign off on a protected bike lane project, the public must be duly notified, and alternative criteria must “adhere to guidelines established by a national association of public agency transportation official,” which means the NACTO guidelines could be used whether Caltrans has officially adopted them or not.

And unfortunately for lay people, Caltrans balked at removing its convention of naming bike lane types by “class” and numeral, saying it is just too embedded in its documents. So the new protected bike lanes category would be officially named “Class IV Bikeways,” adding to Class I Bikeways (bike paths or shared use paths), Class II bikeways (bike lanes), and Class III bikeways (bike routes). Memorize that.

“We’re very excited to have gotten to this point after months of harder-than-expected negotiations and stalwart support from Phil Ting,” said Dave Snyder of the California Bicycle Coalition. “He really wants to see protected bikeways get more popular.”

  • Dennis_Hindman

    The fact that car manufacturers are required to install air bags, seat belts, safety cell, and crush zones which have lowered the injuries and fatalities of occupants in collisions seems to escape you. Trying to convince vulnerable cyclists to ride in the middle of lanes for fast moving motor vehicles is tantamount to going back to the dark ages of road safety when there was a much higher rate of injuries and fatalities on the roads.

    Human bodies are not designed to withstand the force of impact from something hitting it at 40 miles an hour.

    The basis of your belief seems to be that if you follow the rules of the road and ride in the middle of the lane with the motor vehicles, nothing will happen to you. After all, motor vehicles never smash into each other. You want people to ride with an aura of invincibility, ignoring the risk of severe injury or being killed if something goes wrong.

    Separating people from danger is a fundamental principle of industrial safety.

  • nocklebeast

    Dennis, you could participate in a study that showed motorists pass you with a greater distance when controlling the lane, and it wouldn’t convince you…. oh, wait, that’s already happened.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    People are voting with their pedals if they want to bicycle and where. Los Angeles had a 20% commuting mode share increase in 2013. This was almost entirely due to the installation of bike lanes. No one said they have to ride there, nor were these promoted. This was not unique to Los Angeles, this is happening in cities throughout the U,S.

    I participated in more rides for before and after sharrows testing for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation than anyone else.

    It was a very uncomfortable situation for several of us not knowing how the motorist would react or whether they would notice we were there. It didn’t get any more comfortable with experience. Drivers honking, yelling at us and driving around us at a high rate of speed. Again, its like running with the bulls in that you are constantly at the mercy of motorists to notice you and to not make a mistake.

  • Doesn’t matter, the concept is the same. They’re still going straight through an intersection and contribute to (or hinder) the flow of traffic. I’ve seen countless instances of pedestrians filling the crosswalk and causing turning drivers to have to wait. That whole issue could be avoided if pedestrians going straight merged across the turning lanes into a general travel.

  • nocklebeast

    well, it’s not like Caltrans is perfect. Door zone bike lanes come to mind. Anything specific about the “current road network?”

  • nocklebeast

    You’ll want to pay attention to “right turns and bike lanes” here:

    or the fact that there’s a lot of right hook and dooring accidents in Boston here (just scroll down to the actual data tables):

  • nocklebeast