Watch Bike Advocates Vent About the Silliest Anti-Bike Lane Arguments

Author Laura Bliss Mar 15, 2019

Why wouldn’t you want a friendly neighborhood bike lane? As advocates of enhanced bicycle infrastructure know all too well, the reasons bike-lane foes give for opposing projects are as numerous and imaginative as a child’s excuses for skipping her homework. The latest short by Clarence Eckerson, tireless auteur of the Streetfilms video series, checks in with activists attending the National Bike Summit outside Washington, D.C., this week. They’re all asked to recall the anti-bike arguments that made them go huh.

A sampling of head-scratchers: If you build a bike lane, the terrorists will win! The local fauna will go extinct! We don’t have the money to put paint on the road!

Some of these bike-lane battles royale—from Baltimore to Minneapolis—have been covered in more detail by CityLab. Unfortunately for advocates, when other community members set out to kill a bike lane proposal, it often doesn’t matter how ridiculous the chosen anti-cycling myths may be.

 

Legislative Update: New Session Brings New Bills for Bikes

Date 3/10/2019

Author:
The deadline to introduce bills for the first year of the new two-year California legislative session was last week, and more than 2,500 bills have been introduced in both the Assembly and the Senate. A few of them hold specific interest for bicyclists.

These include Scott Wiener’s Complete Streets Bill, S.B. 127, which would require Caltrans to implement safety improvements like protected bike lanes and sidewalks every time they repave or rebuild a state-owned road. So far nothing in the bill’s wording has changed since we first wrote about it. Its first hearing, in the Senate Transportation Committee, will take place some time in April.

Two other bills sponsored by the California Bicycle Coalition are aimed at cleaning up confusion in the California Vehicle Code about where bicyclists are supposed to position themselves on the road.

One, A.B. 697, is the third such attempt from Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), whose earlier tries on this topic ran up against strong resistance from law enforcement. It aims to clean up wording in the California Vehicle Code section 21202, which requires bicycles to be “as far as practicable” to the right of the road.

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SMART lands $12.5 million grant to extend bike path

The Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission has awarded SMART $12.5 million to build more of the pedestrian and bicycle pathway adjacent to its rail corridor.

Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit applied for more than $27 million through the MTC’s Active Transportation Program, and commission staff responded with partial funding for a total of 4.7 miles of new path, running through Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park and Petaluma. The money will go toward two segments that have already been moved through the required environmental review process.

As part of the quarter-cent tax approved in 2008 by voters for the North Bay commuter rail system, SMART committed to building 54 miles of new paved bicycle trail, as well as upgrading 16 existing miles. Once completed, the pathway will run the 70-mile span between SMART’s eventual northern and southern ends, from Cloverdale to Larkspur.

Eleven years after voters backed SMART, and almost a year and half into operations, 16.2 miles of the path have been finished, with another 1-mile segment in Petaluma set to be completed this year. The additional mileage provided through the MTC grant will bring the pathway up to 22 miles.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin Fixler at 707-521-5336 or kevin.fixler@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @kfixler.

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California’s High-Speed Rail Decision is Prudent Politics

2/17/2019

Author  Sean Jeans-Gail

The United States is incapable of building big things.

That is an uncomfortable thing to say about the country you’re from, but in the year 2019 it is an undeniable truth.

In that light, California Governor Gavin Newsom’s announcement that his administration would be narrowing the project’s scope—refocusing on the Central Valley spine between Merced and Bakersfield—may be vexing to advocates, but it’s just good politics.

[Read Rail Passengers’ statement on Gov. Newsom’s announcement.]

The project has been beset by outside difficulties and poor internal management: a series of lawsuits by NIMBYs and environmental groups (the latter of whom should know better); an indifferent federal partner in Congress, including an actively hostile contingent within the GOP segment of California’s congressional delegation; a poorly chosen corridor, selected to win political support from Central Valley cities afraid they would be left stranded in favor of the state’s twin economic behemoths, Los Angeles and the Bay Area (and let’s be honest, there’s plenty of historical precedent underpinning that fear). If you want a full rundown of everything that went wrong, Jeff Davis at Eno Transportation has a fair—albeit incomplete—summary of the avoidable mistakes.

Faced with these obstacles, none of which he created and most of which were beyond his ability to solve, Gov. Newsom made the politically sensible decision to adjust the California High Speed Rail Authority’s (CAHSRA) focus to the only segment currently under construction. It eases worries in the state legislature and among the public that the project is spiraling out of control and brings a finish line within touching distance.

And despite the headlines you may have read, the Governor demonstrated clear and unequivocal support for increasing passenger rail service in the state.

“We’re going to make high-speed rail a reality for [California],” Gov. Newsom wrote yesterday in a series of tweets. “We have the capacity to complete the rail between Merced and Bakersfield. We will continue our regional projects north and south. Finish Phase 1 [environmental] work. Connect the Central Valley to other parts of the state. For those who want to walk away: Abandoning high speed rail means we will have wasted billions of dollars with nothing but broken promises and lawsuits to show for it. I’m not interested in sending $3.5B in federal funding—exclusively allocated for HSR—back to the White House. This is so much more than a train project. It’s a transformation project. Anchored by high-speed rail, we can align our economic, workforce, and transportation strategies to revitalize communities across our state.”

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SMART eyes new funding for Petaluma bike path extension

Buoyed by a potential $12.6 million in grant funding, SMART is planning construction of a bike path from Penngrove to downtown Petaluma, the next phase of its pathway project that critics say has lagged commuter rail development.

SMART is in line for the funding this month after the Metropolitan Transportation Commission recommended the North Bay’s rail agency for the grant. It would be used to construct 4.7 miles of pathway segments along the rail line in Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park and from Penngrove to McDowell Boulevard, where it would link up with a planned path from Southpoint Boulevard to Payran Street. Construction is lated for 2021.

“It’s great,” said Supervisor David Rabbitt, a SMART board member. “We’re continuing to move forward. It’s all moving together.”

SMART was billed as a rail and trail system, providing a 70-mile bike path and commuter rail link from Cloverdale to Larkspur. So far, only 16.2 miles of trail have been completed between Santa Rosa and San Rafael. A separate grant SMART received two years ago will fund construction of a bike path from Southpoint to Payran. That’s due to be completed this summer, pending approval of permits, according to Jeanne Mariani-Belding, SMART’s communications and marketing manager.