Protected Bikeway Act faces tough hearing tomorrow

CalBike’s bill to encourage protected bikeways by giving local agencies the freedom to refer to best available guidance in developing bikeways faces stiff opposition at its Senate hearing tomorrow. At the last minute, the powerful League of California Cities submitted a surprising opposition letter based on an incorrect understanding of liability laws. Fortunately, actual cities support the bill and none have signed on in opposition. Similarly, the California Association of Bicycling Organizations opposes the bill in keeping with their long-standing opposition to bicycle-specific facilities. Fortunately, a list of 19 bicycling advocacy organizations support the bill and none other has indicated opposition.

The League of Cities is wrong about liability. They claimed that a city seeking to design a bikeway that requires an exception from the Highway Design Manual (as cycle tracks currently require) would be liable to expensive judgments unless they get approval for that exception from Caltrans. The argument fails to recognize that any recognized standard, such as those published by AASHTO (American Association of Highway Transportation Officials) or NACTO (the National Association of City Transportation Officials), confers the same design immunity as the California Highway Design Manual (CHDM). Cities already rely on other manuals besides the CHDM for their local streets and roads. AB 1193 merely lets them rely on other manuals for local bikeways as well.

CalBike’s lobbyists, Platinum Advisors, are working the legislature hard to get the six necessary votes at the Senate Transportation & Housing Committee. Protected bikeways are proven to attract more riders and improve safety. All California communities deserve the freedom to implement these safer bikeways!

ACTION: If you live in the district of one of the Senators on this committee, contact them NOW and ask them to support AB 1193.