By Melanie Curry, August 29, 2014
Under A.B. 1193, protected bike lanes, like these ones on Market Street in San Francisco, will be easier for cities to build.
A bill that would make it easier for California cities to build
protected bike lanes passed both houses of the legislature this week and
has been sent on for 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 create or adopt standards for a new category of bike lanes:
protected, separated bike lanes or “cycletracks.” These standards can be
used by communities that want to build protected lanes and want to
refer to a set of engineer-approved guidelines to help design them
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 currently
communities that want to build separated bike lanes still must go
through an official process to get an exception.
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 would could be used whether
Caltrans has officially adopted them or not.
And unfortunately for lay people, Caltrans balked at removing its
bike lane naming convention, saying it is just too embedded in its
documents. So the new protected bike lanes category would be officially
named “Class IV Bikeways” under the law. Other categories remain Class I
Bikeways (bike paths or shared use paths), Class II bikeways (bike
lanes), and Class III bikeways (bike routes). Memorize that.
Dave Snyder of the California Bicycle Coalition, said, “We’re very
excited to have gotten to this point after months of
harder-than-expected negotiations and stalwart support from Phil Ting.
He really wants to see protected bikeways get more popular.”