By Steven T. Jones
The three-year-old injunction against any bicycle-related improvements in San Francisco has gotten downright surreal. There was a court hearing yesterday before Judge Peter Busch, at which city officials and bike advocates hoped the unusually broad injunction would finally be lifted.
Instead, the judge indicated he may wait until early next year for a full hearing on whether the San Francisco Bicycle Plan’s Environmental Impact Report – developed over the last two years at a cost of more than $1 million – fully complies with the California Environmental Quality Act (the city originally didn’t do a full-blown EIR on the bike plan, which was what led to the injunction).
The city will prepare a list of planned near-term improvements for the judge by this Friday, and both sides will be submitting briefs before another hearing on Nov. 12, addressing whether changes could be undone if the injunction is partially lifted now and the judge later rules the EIR is inadequate. Streetsblog SF has a good discussion of the issue, including input from Rob Anderson, who brought the lawsuit that led to the injunction.
But there’s an even more basic absurdity here. Installing bike racks or painting sharrows on the road doesn’t hurt anyone, and it promotes activity that is unquestionably good for the environment, which was the intention of CEQA. Meanwhile, the Legislature and governor have waived CEQA entirely for a massive proposed football stadium in Southern California (which may be used to lure away the 49ers).
So, San Francisco has now completed and certified an EIR, but we’re still not allowed to even put in a single bike rack. Yet a massive new stadium and billions of dollars worth of federal spending on local freeway expansions get approved with no consideration given to their environmental impacts. Does this strike anyone else as surreal?