SF Responds to Bike Injunction With 1353 Page Enviro Review

San Francisco’s Market Street.

and a half years after a judge issued an injunction preventing the city
from adding any new bicycle infrastructure to its streets, the San
Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and the San Francisco
Planning Department have released a 1353-page Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) on the San Francisco Bicycle Plan. 

a cost of more than $1 million, the city has attempted to demonstrate
in excruciating detail what would seem to be the obvious: better
bicycle amenities contribute to increased cycling and an improved

Despite the significant time and money
required to produce the tome, Mayor Gavin Newsom struck an optimistic
note, citing the proposed addition of 34 miles of bicycle lanes to San
Francisco streets—a 75 percent increase over the existing 45 miles of

“We’ve accomplished a great deal together, but
much work remains to be done to improve the safety and convenience of
bicycling,” said Newsom. “I will continue to push for a better
bicycling environment as part of my deep commitment to improving the
health of our environment, our residents and our city.”

A public hearing on the DEIR has been scheduled for January 8th. The deadline for comments is January 13th. 

While Rob Anderson, the plaintiff
in the lawsuit that sparked the injunction, will surely continue his
befuddlingly successful crusade (a couple choice jeremiads from his
blog: cyclists as a special interest wielding inordinate political power or a frivolous mode of transportation akin to skateboarding), the city assumes the DEIR will be sufficient to lift the injunction. 

Planning Department is confident that the DEIR fully satisfies the
issues cited in the superior court’s injunction and will enable timely
implementation of bicycle improvements that will enhance transportation
alternatives in San Francisco,” said Planning Director John Rahaim.

this means practically is a different matter. According to Andy
Thornley, program director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
(SFBC), even if the DEIR is certified by spring and the Bicycle Plan
goes before the MTA board shortly thereafter, the 60 projects
outlined for immediate implementation likely won’t begin until the
summer of 2009. 

“The Draft EIR is a very
expensive bow-tie that we’re going to attach to the Bike Plan itself. 
While it is a big deal, it shouldn’t be the only focus. The city needs
to build out the Bike Plan as soon as possible."

injunction held that the previous version of the Bicycle Plan had not
received sufficient review under the California Environmental Quality
). The Bicycle Plan DEIR identifies some potentially
significant impacts as defined by CEQA affecting traffic congestion,
transit operating delays, and loading activities for some project
options, particularly along portions of Second Street, Fifth Street,
Cesar Chavez Street, Portola Avenue and Masonic Avenue.

Though the city took considerable heat over the summer for revealing at a Board of Supervisors hearing that it had fallen behind its own schedule for releasing the DEIR,
the Planning Department delivered on its promise to release it by
Thanksgiving. Both advocates and critics of the Bicycle Plan will have
plenty to sift through over the long weekend (and likely through the
New Year).

Given the timeline of up to five
years for completion of the 60 near-term projects in the Bicycle Plan,
it is unclear whether Newsom, a likely candidate for governor in 2010,
will realize significant bicycle improvements during his last term as

Photo: San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency


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