More good bike news from the California legislature this week: The extensive and costly environmental reviews required for on-street bike lanes would be streamlined under a bill approved unanimously by the State Assembly on Monday. The bill, AB 2245, would relieve planners of needing to conduct environmental impact reports (EIRs) for bike lane projects, which are required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The bill is expected to be signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown next month.
“We see this bill as a positive step in addressing the auto-oriented nature of CEQA, which has in the past stifled worthy bike lane projects that could help make bicycling safer, easier and more inviting to a larger share of Californians,” the California Bicycle Coalition wrote.
When traffic lanes are removed to make room for bike lanes, CEQA typically requires planners to measure impacts using the car-centric formula known as Level of Service. That would change under the new bill. As the CBC explains, “AB 2245 essentially requires cities to examine the same environmental impacts for bike lane projects as under CEQA, but in a much more streamlined and cost-effective fashion”:
AB 2245 requires cities and counties to prepare a traffic and safety study of the proposed bike lane project, conduct public hearings to discuss the project’s impact, and file CEQA-exemption notices with the state Office of Planning & Research as well as the County Clerk… Bike lane projects that languish in the environmental review process for up to two years could gain local clearance and exemption in a matter of months under AB 2245.