Friday, June 23, 2006

Court injunction against the Bicycle Plan

Judge James Warren of the Superior Court issued a Preliminary Injunction against the City of San Francisco on June 20, 2006, enjoining the city from implementing its bicycle project until the court can rule on the merits of the litigation initiated by the Petitioners, Coalition for Adequate Review, Ninety-Nine Percent, and Rob Anderson. The Petitioners filed the litigation in July, 2005 under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), citing the city’s failure to conduct any environmental review of the impact of the sweeping project.

The project consists of two large volumes, the “Framework” and “Network” documents that contain detailed plans, maps, and “actions” to change most of the streets in San Francisco. To accommodate the one- to two-percent of city residents who ride bicycles in the city, the plan mandates eliminating traffic lanes and street parking and parking in new and existing structures, allowing bicycles inside Muni and other public transit vehicles, and requiring that buses and automobiles “share” traffic lanes with bicycles regardless of speed. 

The city conducted no environmental review of the impact of these actions before sending the plan to the Board of Supervisors, which adopted it in Ordinance 109-05 on June 7, 2005, incorporating the plan’s Framework document into the City’s General Plan. On June 21, 2005, the Board, sitting as the San Francisco Transportation Authority, adopted the project’s other component, its “Network” document.

The Petitioners requested the preliminary injunction because the city continues to implement the project in spite of their litigation. In May, for example, as described in the project, the city permanently eliminated street parking and a traffic lane on Market Street between Van Ness and Octavia Blvd. to install bicycle lanes. On April 18, the Board of Supervisors rushed the Market Street action through the process with no environmental review to accommodate the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s “Bike to Work Day” on May 18. The result, according to merchants and services in the 1600-1700 blocks of Market, has been a drastic loss of business and foot traffic.

Meanwhile, the city has continued to eliminate street parking and traffic lanes to install bicycle lanes on several other thoroughfares, including Potrero, NorthPoint, Lake, and San Jose. There are also plans to eliminate traffic lanes and street parking for “bicycle improvements” on 2nd, 5th, 14th, 16th/17th, Alemany, Bayshore, Broadway Tunnel, Cesar Chavez corridor, Townsend, Illinois, Laguna Honda, Upper Market, Masonic, Fell, Oakdale, Polk, Portola, 19th Avenue, and other city streets. 

Long-term plans enable unnamed people to alter every street in the City by adding it to the “bicycle network,” a list largely devised by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, which endorses the Critical Mass demonstration that blocks commute traffic in the City during rush hour on the last Friday of every month.

To further evade the City’s obligation to conduct environmental review of the bicycle plan project, the Board of Supervisors also adopted a resolution on April 12 and 18, 2006 to do away with the “Level of Service” (LOS) measurement of time lost due to traffic delays caused by the project, calling CEQA itself “dated” and “antiquated.”

The Preliminary Injunction, signed by Judge James Warren on June 16, 2006---one of his last decisions before retiring---prohibits the City from all further parking and lane elimination and from allowing bicycles inside Muni vehicles until the case is decided on the merits. Trial is now scheduled for September 13, 2006. You can view the decision on the Superior Court's website ( by entering case number 505509.

Contact Coalition for Adequate Review, Rob Anderson:

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