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The World’s Nuttiest Bike Lane NIMBYs Live in a San Diego Beach Community


Look at this visual cacophony long enough and it will induce a dizzying type of vertigo.

Think you’ve read about every possible NIMBY objection to bike lanes? Think again. These recent comments from a public meeting in San Diego’s affluent Coronado beach community are definitely, um, different.

At the meeting, city leaders were bombarded with objections — not about parking, traffic, or “scofflaws” on bikes, but about the “visual pollution” of painted stripes on the road. There’s just something about a bike lane stripe that aesthetically revolts these people in a way that, say, a dashed yellow center stripe never will.

Local news station says Coronado is a “haven for bicyclists” (the League of American Bicyclists named it a silver-level Bike Friendly Community in 2013). Apparently, it’s also a haven for world-class NIMBYs, as evidenced by these amazing comments captured by KPBS (we left off the names to be merciful):

  • “You are covering Coronado with paint stripe pollution.”
  • “The graffiti on the streets does not help our property values.”
  • The lanes “bring to mind a visual cacophony that if you look there long enough it will induce a dizzying type of vertigo.” [Editor’s note: This one wins!]
  • “These black streets with these brilliant white lines everywhere … believe me, it takes away from your home, from your outlook on life.”
  • “It’s very similar to personally taking all three of my daughters to a tattoo parlor and having them completely body tattooed.” [Editor’s note: Okay, maybe this one.]

Now that you’ve had a laugh, here comes the not-funny part: As a result of these ridiculous complaints, the City Council voted not to continue with a plan to add 12 miles of bike lanes. According to KPBS, from 2005 to 2013, bicyclists were struck by motor vehicle drivers more than 800 times in Coronado, resulting in 48 severe injuries and 7 fatalities.

Via Streetsblog California
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Governor Brown Signs Law Allowing Bicycle Ticket Diversion Programs

Sgt. David Krumer of the LAPD at a Critical Mass ride in 2010. Image: Damien Newton/Streetsblog

Sgt. David Krumer of the LAPD at a Critical Mass ride in 2010. Image: Damien Newton/Streetsblog

A new law just signed by Governor Jerry Brown will make it possible for bicyclists who are ticketed for certain infractions to attend a class on safe bicycle riding and thus reduce their fines.

The bill, A.B. 902, has been tracked by Streetsblog since it was introduced by Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) in February. Sponsored by the California Bicycle Coalition, it was amended a few times, but survived the process of squeezing through the legislature with mostly minor changes.

“When a bicyclist is ticketed for a moving violation in California, they by default receive the same monetary fine as when driving a motor vehicle. This means that with court fees added a stop sign violation can cost around $200, and running a red light around $400,” explained Bloom.

“The penalty should be determined so as to encourage safe behavior and not so punitive that it discourages bicycling altogether, especially for low-income individuals who rely the most on bicycling for everyday transportation.”

One of the changes clarified that any class taken in lieu of a fine would have to be “sanctioned by law enforcement.” Robert Prinz, Education Coordinator at Bike East Bay, who worked on putting the bill forward, said this was an important clarification.

“That means there would have to be a certain level of standard for the information provided in the class,” he pointed out. Also, he said, “for the most part law enforcement has a pretty good idea of what’s important for bicycle safety, but some police departments would benefit from attending some of these classes themselves.”

The other change to the bill removed a requirement that classes be offered free of charge. This was originally included because it created more of an incentive for people to take safety classes, and also because it’s the way Bike East Bay handles its education programs. But other advocacy organizations didn’t want to restrict their own, not-yet-in-existence programs in this way.

Whichever way a program is set up, the hoped-for result is a reduced fine and a more educated and knowledgeable bike rider.

Prinz points out that it will take some work to set up education programs where none exist now, and that it’s up to local bicycle advocacy groups to get the ball rolling. To that end, Bike East Bay has been working with other advocacy groups to formulate the best programs for local needs. Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, the city of Long Beach, and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition have all expressed interest in creating diversion programs. Davis already has an on-campus diversion program and is interested in expanding it citywide. The cities of Huntington Beach and Alameda both used to have programs but suspended them because of a legal prohibition against them in the existing vehicle code. The Marin County Bicycle Coalition already has a diversion program, which it has been able to run because of strong local support from the police and courts.

“For sure it’s going to be easier to get these programs going in areas with established advocacy organizations,” said Prinz. “In rural or less populated areas there is going to be a need for outreach and education.”

Bike East Bay currently incorporates a diversion program into its regular educational offerings. Like Davis, UC Berkeley has its own police department that issues citations on campus. For on-campus infractions, ticketed bicyclists can attend a class, bring proof of attendance to the police, pay a fee, and have the ticket destroyed. The fee, around $50, is much less than what they would have to pay for a ticket if it went through the court system.

Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
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New CA Bill Would Increase Active Transportation Funding

This just in: Active transportation is finally getting some love in Sacramento. A bill was introduced today to double the funding available for projects and programs that encourage people to walk or ride bikes by making streets and paths safe and comfortable for them.

Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 2.41.04 PMAssemblymembers Eduardo Garcia, (D-Coachella), Autumn Burke (D-Los Angeles), and David Chiu (D-San Francisco) introduced A.B. X1-23 this afternoon. The bill, introduced at the last minute of the special session on transportation called by Governor Jerry Brown, is the first one to directly address making streets and roads safe for people walking and biking.

“We believe that, in the ongoing conversations about generating dollars for transportation, we cannot forget the nonmotorized portion of our stakeholders,” said Garcia. “As we discuss future funding for transportation, we want to make sure we recognize that nonmotorized transportation plays a key role. It’s important for climate change policy, it’s important for public health — including obesity — and it’s important for folks with disabilities.”

The bill would double the amount of money in the state’s Highway Transportation Account that is allocated to the Active Transportation Program, which funds projects that encourage and promote walking and riding bikes. The bill also includes measures to ensure the funding would be made available to disadvantaged communities.

“This bill has a direct correlation with other state policies,” said Garcia, including climate change policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and Caltrans goals to double the portion of trips made by bicycling and walking. “This is an area where we have underinvested in the past, and it’s time to change that.”

Here are the goals of the bill: Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
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#DamienTalks #16: EDF’s Tim O’Connor on Reducing Petroleum Use

Maybe you’ve seen the mailers, or the insane websites, or have heard a rant on talk radio. The petroleum industry is coming for S.B. 350, legislation that would set standards to help the State of California reduce its petroleum use by 50 percent in the coming decades.

Truckers, the oil industry, conservatives and even some L.A. based democrat Assemblymen are all fighting S.B. 350.

Truckers, the oil industry, conservatives and even some L.A. based democrat Assemblymen are all fighting S.B. 350.

Today, #DamienTalks with Tim O’Connor, an analyst with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), who explains how reducing dependence on petroleum isn’t just good for the environment, but will be great for the state’s economy. Despite the scare tactics of opponents of the legislation, S.B. 350 is a win for California, for the environment and for pretty much anyone reading these words.

The legislation has been moving quickly, but only has a week left to pass the Assembly before it can head to the Governor’s desk for a final signature. It has already passed the Senate and all its assigned Assembly committees.

We’re always looking for sponsors, show ideas, and feedback. You can contact me at, at twitter @damientypes, online at Streetsblog California or on Facebook at StreetsblogCA.

Via Streetsblog California
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CA Legislators Turn Their Attention to Transit Funding

San Francisco Assemblymember David Chiu proposed a packet of bills to fund transit, flanked by local transit agency reps and advocates, with Assemblymember Kevin Mullin behind. Photo: Melanie Curry

California legislators held press events in Los Angeles and San Francisco on Friday to present new bills to boost transit funding as part of the special legislative session on transportation infrastructure.

“Anyone who hits a pothole or sits in traffic knows that our transportation system is in crisis, but so does anyone who has to rely on a late, crowded bus to work, school, or do errands, or who would take the bus if one was there,” said Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco), who introduced a package of bills. “California needs more transit funding to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and to prevent gridlock from strangling our economic recovery.”

Assemblymember Kevin Mullin (D-San Mateo) said better transit options are key to reducing congestion. In the San Francisco Bay Area, the major transit systems including BART, Muni, and AC Transit “are at or near capacity already,” he said. “Increasing capacity of public transit systems must be part of the solution.”

The proposed bills would triple the diesel fuel tax, with the money to be distributed to transit agencies througout the state, and raise the portion of cap-and-trade money currently allocated to transit.

This was far from the first set of proposals for the special session, which focused on solving transportation issues with the creation of new committees and a legislative process parallel to the regular legislative session.

Much of the focus so far has been on increasing funding to fixing potholes. Democrats have proposed an increase in the gas tax and Republicans called for using cap-and-trade revenue (a likely illegal idea). Estimates put the backlog of deferred road maintenance at over $100 billion.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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It Just Works: Davis Quietly Debuts America’s First Protected Intersection

Images: City of Davis

pfb logo 100x22Michael Andersen blogs for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets.

The city that brought America the bike lane 48 years ago this summer has done it again.

Davis, California — population 66,000, bike commuting rate 20 percent — finished work last week on a new intersection design ordered up by a city council member who had decided that initial plans didn’t measure up to streets he’d ridden in the Netherlands.

A year later, with the help of Dutch consulting firm Mobycon, Council Member Brett Lee’s proposal for a protected intersection has arrived at Covell Boulevard and J Street. And as the Davis Enterprise reported Sunday, it’s working perfectly:

There were no standing diagrams on the street, no big street signs attached to traffic light poles announcing the difference between a standard American intersection and the Dutch-styled one people were passing through.

Everyone went in blind.

Yet for busy lunch hour traffic — well, for summer — on a Friday afternoon, motorists along Covell Boulevard zipped on through, with bicyclists, pedestrians and skateboarders seamlessly following their paths across the so-called “Dutch junction” — modeled after designs in the bike-friendly Netherlands.

No one died. No near misses. Nothing even close. Just history in the making no one seemed to notice.

It’s exactly what fans of protected intersections would have predicted for a design that arranges traffic so people on bikes and in cars can easily make eye contact with one another without looking over their shoulders.

Davis, it turned out, wasn’t alone in its vision. Austin has already built two protected intersections in a still-uninhabited part of a new development and expects people to start using them in the next few months. It’s planning two more.

Salt Lake City is currently building another downtown and plans to open it in the first week of October. Boston and Sacramento are planning their own.

“What did surprise me was how intuitive the intersection is,” Davis bicycle coordinator Jennifer Donofrio said Monday. “Observing people use the intersection, they are able to use it without any sort of education or any sort of guidance.”

Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
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New Website Tracks How Well CA Cap-and-Trade Fights Climate Change

TransForm’s new Climate Change website shows California’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities projects. This screenshot shows the San Joaquin Valley. Data on greenhouse gas reduction hasn’t been incorporated yet.

TransForm has unveiled the Climate Benefits Map, an interactive online tool that provides a centralized source tracking the benefits of California’s cap-and-trade program, which helps fund transit and development projects.

The map, currently in beta, will feature all the data available about the various programs and projects funded by the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) and make it available to the public.

TransForm, a nonprofit that advocates for sustainable transportation and land use across the state, aims to highlight the environmental and economic benefits of California’s climate change-fighting programs.

“We really believe that California is benefiting from its climate change policies,” said Shannon Tracey, TransForm’s communications director. As the state legislature considers further programs to help reduce greenhouse gases, “it’s important for people to see what we’re getting from these investments.”

“This tool will help people evaluate whether we’re doing the right kinds of investments,” she added.

The California Air Resources Board is developing its own online tracking tool for climate change policies, but it’s not close to being ready.

California’s GGRF currently funds a wide range of programs, administered by different state agencies:

Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
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California Legislative Update

bikeatCapitollabel2In Sacramento, bills are beginning to move more quickly through the committee process as this week’s policy committee deadline approaches. Below are highlights on some of the bills pertaining to sustainable streets issues.

Cap-and-Trade Funds for Transit: After Streetsblog wrote about its focus on large projects, author Jim Beall (D-Santa Clara) amended S.B. 9 to allow projects of any size to compete for funds in this program. TransForm says the bill still includes a provision that would make it hard for disadvantaged communities to access the grant funds, by giving priority to projects with non-state funding. The main benefit of the bill is that it allows a commitment to funding larger projects over time, making it easier to secure financing and leverage other funding. S.B. 9 still eliminates operations funding from this program in future cycles, but that change has caused no ripples. Operations were nominally eligible during the first round, but none of the first year’s recipients won operations funding–perhaps because the grants are one-time-only, and operations are an ongoing expense.  The bill goes next to the Assembly Natural Resources Committee.

Parking Requirements: It wasn’t as exciting as the tiff in the Labor Committee hearing, but the conversation in the Transportation and Housing Committee last week about A.B. 744 did get strange. The bill, authored by Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park), would lower parking requirements to make developing affordable housing easier. Ultimately it passed the committee this week and moves next to Governance and Finance. See Streetsblog’s coverage here.

Slow Vehicles Ahead: A.B. 208 from Frank Bigelow (R-O’Neals) was originally an attempt to clarify the three-foot rule on rural roads and has undergone a number of changes, reflecting legal semantics more than anything. For example, one amendment would have changed the word “roadway” to “highway,” but that was an awkward change that would have left no legal place for slow vehicles to pull out and let others pass. In its latest iteration the bill settles for language making it clear that bicycles are included in the definition of “slow-moving vehicle” and must pull aside if there are five or more vehicles piled up behind them. The bill is now on the Senate consent calendar, which means it could be passed without further discussion.

Bus Cameras to Catch Parking Violators: A.B. 1287 from David Chiu (D-San Francisco) would allow San Francisco Muni to keep using cameras on its vehicles to catch people parking in transit lanes. Muni did a study that found that the program could help reduce delays. There was no opposition to the bill, which passed the Transportation Committee and now goes to the Judiciary Committee. The bill applies only to S.F. Muni, but there’s no reason it couldn’t open the door to other transit agencies; L.A. Metro experiences similar issues.

Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
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Save the Date: CalBike Summit Coming in October

The 2015 CalBike Summit’s theme is equity. Photo: Melanie Curry

The California Bicycle Coalition’s 2015 Bike Summit will take place in San Diego in late October, providign an opportunity for bike advocates from across the state to gather and discuss issues of this year’s theme: equity.

Executive Director Dave Snyder pointed out that equity is becoming a focus in California, especially in the legislature, where climate change legislation increasingly includes requirements to consider fairness across income groups and locations.

“Bicycling is one solution to addressing inequities,” said Synder, “and the more that legislators and the people who elect them understand this, the more success we’ll have in making all our communities healthier, safer, and more prosperous.”

The summit will feature three days of learning sessions and networking events, starting on Sunday, October 25.

“It’s a chance to bring together all of the advocacy organizations around the state to share information and learn from each other,” said Stephan Vance, a planner at San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) and a member of CalBike’s board of directors. “It also includes a professional engineering and planning component. Our advocates are very savvy about these topics, and can share information about what cities are doing around the state to help meet our goals. It’s the convening of a high-powered advocacy group with the addition of a professional bike planning and engineering conference.”

Or, as Snyder put it, “It’s our state’s version of three national events, combining the professional quality of the national ProWalk ProBike Conference with the political savvy of the National Bike Summit and the advocacy expertise of the Alliance [for Biking & Walking]’s Leadership Retreat.”

Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
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CA Legislative Update: Budget, Cap-and-Trade, LOS, Gas Tax

bikeatCapitollabel2This week the California legislature was mostly focused on the budget, since the Assembly and the Senate must by law present a budget bill to the governor by midnight on Monday, June 15. The joint Budget Conference Committee succeeded in producing an agreement [PDF] well before the deadline; their budget bill, A.B. 93, should be available later today, ready to be voted on in both houses on Monday.

To help meet the deadline, the Conference Committee punted decisions on cap-and-trade revenue expenditures by separating them from the budget process. This will give the legislature more time for discussions on how to allocate the 40 percent of cap-and-trade revenue that is not already assigned to programs by last year’s statute. Of the three spending plans—from the Governor, the Senate, and the Assembly—only the Assembly plan included an allocation for Active Transportation. The Assembly version called for an additional $50 million for transit pass programs and for infrastructure and programs to increase bicycling and walking.

There is still some disagreement about how much money will actually be available from the cap-and-trade program and how much should be allocated. Governor Brown’s May Revise budget proposal outlines expenditures of $2 billion, while the Legislative Analyst Office projects the proceeds to be closer to $2.3 billion. An LAO outline of the different proposals is available [PDF].

Bill to Delay Level of Service (LOS) Reform Amended: A.B. 779, from Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), was amended last week. The Office of Planning and Research (OPR) was required by last year’s S.B. 743 to come up with a way of measuring the effects that new development has on traffic without focusing solely on congestion and delay, as Level of Service currently does. OPR issued a preliminary draft of new guidelines that propose using Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) instead of LOS [PDF], but the guidelines are neither final nor legally binding, yet. As first written, A.B. 779 would have broadened the definition of where the LOS reform could happen automatically; then it was amended to delay the substitution of VMT for LOS. Now, however, it simply authorizes OPR to make the determination that residential and mixed-use projects in areas where transit is frequent are exempt from having to analyze traffic impacts.

Like the rest of California’s Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), this bill is messy, and its outcomes are uncertain and open to political interpretation. Conservatives generally dislike the CEQA rules, and push to gut its environmental protections. Livability advocates generally appreciate CEQA, but oppose the ways that pro-car pro-sprawl LOS has degraded its intent.

The true intent of the bill’s sponsors, the Infill Builders Federation, is not clear. According to the legislative analysis, the group is concerned that having to analyze VMT would create an additional burden that could put infill at a disadvantage—despite the fact that many developers already conduct a VMT analysis, which is simpler than analyzing LOS. The infill group also states that the new guidelines could create an “added litigation burden.”

Under CEQA, if an agency determines that a project will have a less-than-significant impact, it can skip spending time and money on extensive environmental analysis. But CEQA also allows people to sue to force agencies to do a full analysis.

This week’s A.B. 779 amendment would authorize—but not require—OPR to define parameters that, if met by a project, would automatically exempt it from having to analyze its traffic impacts. This may shift the burden of proof away from cities and agencies and on to those who claim an impact. Overall that sounds great for infill and for livability, but the devil is in the details. And as currently written, the bill may have the effect of slowing down OPR’s process for finding a replacement for LOS—as its previous, now amended, iteration would have regulated outright.

Like any bill, A.B. 779 is still in flux. Currently it is in the Senate, waiting for a committee assignment.

Senate Bill to Raise Gas Tax Is Not Dead Yet: Although S.B. 16 did not get out of the Senate before last week’s deadline, an urgency clause attached to it means it is still alive. This bill, from Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose), would raise money to fix roads in one of the most sensible ways: by raising the gas tax. It would also raise the annual vehicle registration fee, and add a new annual  registration fee to zero-emission vehicles, which pay little to no gas tax. This bill will require a two-thirds vote, and it likely will face an uphill battle.

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