City Attorney Argues that ‘Implementation of a Plan that Demonstrably Protects Public Safety is a Wholly Worthy Policy Imperative’
SAN FRANCISCO (August 21, 2006) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera today filed the opposition brief in his office’s legal defense of the policy framework for the San Francisco Bicycle Plan, which the Board of Supervisors adopted in June 2005 to make bicycling a safer, more integral part of daily life in San Francisco. Rebutting allegations by anti-bicycling activists that City policymakers didn’t properly adopt the Policy Framework, Herrera’s brief argues that San Francisco was correct in finding that the update would not negatively impact the environment, and that it was adequately reviewed in accordance with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA. The brief additionally argues that state law does not preempt the City from implementing the framework’s recommended actions, and that the City’s notice of adoption was entirely proper.
According to the brief filed in San Francisco Superior Court this afternoon, the City has had similar bicycle-friendly policies in place since at least 1997, when San Francisco adopted its first official Bicycle Plan. In addition, Herrera’s brief argues, the state legislature has already determined that the creation of bicycle lanes usually does not have significant adverse impacts on the environment, and that CEQA guidelines specifically exempt the creation of bicycle lanes on existing rights-of-way from triggering environmental review.
“The fact is that bicyclists are already allowed the full use of roads in San Francisco, and the adoption of a plan that demonstrably protects public safety is a wholly worthy policy imperative,” Herrera said. “In adopting the California Bicycle Transportation Act, the state legislature intended to establish a safe bicycle transportation system. And in enacting CEQA, legislators specifically exempted the creation of bike lanes on existing rights-of-way from triggering environmental review — and with good reason. Bicycles are an environmentally friendly form of transportation, and City policymakers are entitled to do what they can to make San Francisco a more bicycle-friendly city.”
In June, then-Superior Court Judge James Warren issued a preliminary injunction blocking the City from implementing most recommendations in the Bicycle Plan until the Court ruled on the merits of the litigation. The injunction means that the City may not create new bike lanes; allow bikes inside of MUNI; or make any changes to traffic signals, signs, pavement markings, buildings or sidewalks to implement the plan. The injunction will remain in place until the court decides whether the plan has undergone adequate environmental review. A hearing on the merits in the case is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 13 at 9:30 a.m. before San Francisco Superior Court Judge Peter Busch, 400 McAllister Street, Department 301. The case is Coalition for Adequate Review et al v. City and County of San Francisco et al, San Francisco Superior Court Case No. 505-509, filed July 28, 2005.