Judge Busch’s Ruling on Whether to Lift Bike Injunction Imminent

The moment San Francisco bicyclists and advocates have been waiting for for more than three years is expected any day now: a ruling on whether to lift the bike injunction. Despite indications the ordeal could drag on through spring, there is some optimism Judge Peter J. Busch will unlock the legal handcuffs and allow the MTA to go ahead and implement some of the 45 projects before a hearing to determine the adequacy of the EIR.

This afternoon, the City Attorney's office filed a brief [PDF] requested by Busch at a recent hearing on his authority to order the MTA to reverse the improvements it puts in place should he later determine the EIR -- a nearly 2,000 page document that cost $1.5 million to produce -- is not adequate:

If the court were to find that the Bicycle Plan EIR did not fully comply with CEQA, the Court, based on appropriate findings under Public Resource Code Section 21168.9(b) and after the parties presented evidence regarding the propriety and equity of such a remedy, could issue an order requiring the City to remove any bicycle facilities installed between the lifting of the Injunction and a hearing on the merits of the EIR.

It's troubling the judge would want to reverse the improvements (the City Attorney's office has constantly argued it's for the safety of bicyclists in San Francisco) but he essentially wants to make sure case law backs him up, and that he can lift injunction without first conducting the hearing requested by attorney Mary Miles. Last week, the City Attorney's filed a brief outlining which Bike Plan projects the MTA plans to implement in the first year.

The SFBC remains cautiously optimistic the judge will lift the injunction. Program Director Andy Thornley points out Busch would not have asked for the briefs if he wasn't about to offer some kind of relief.

"He wouldn't have asked for that information if he was not leaning toward giving the city a green light. It does seem very plausible that the judge will grant some if not all relief soon," said Thornley.

We'll be monitoring the court for its ruling, which could come as early as tomorrow. Follow us here and on Twitter.