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CABO Opposition to AB819 Unless Amended

December 28th, 2011

State Assembly Member Bob Wieckowski
State Capitol, Room 4162
Sacramento, CA 95814

SUBJECT: CABO opposition to AB 819 unless amended

Dear Assemblymember Wieckowski:

CABO is the association of California’s bicycle organizations. In our meeting last week with Ed Imai of the Assembly Transportation Committee, Dave Snyder of the California Bicycle Coalition, and Heather Falkenthal from your staff, we heard proposals that AB 819 permit local agencies to follow “innovative” bikeway design guidelines from sources other than the Caltrans Highway Design Manual, as currently mandated by law.

We are always open to innovative ideas, but a number of facility innovations that initially seem attractive also appear to present significant safety issues. The available research on these facilities is not always reliable, despite being cited in a guide produced by a private organization. Legitimizing these designs, in effect, by statute, rather than by technical review, could expose bicyclists to potentially dangerous facilities.

We agree, however, that Caltrans has been too conservative in its approach to bikeway design, and we would enthusiastically support an alternative approach that would provide an efficient process for experimenting with new designs. A Caltrans sanctioned experimental procedure would relieve local agencies of liability for nonstandard designs; it would enable experimentation with innovative and improved designs in a controlled and rigorous manner that would be consistent across jurisdictions; and it would provide reliable information for revision of the Highway Design Manual.

I regret that we must oppose AB 819 at this time, but we would be happy to sponsor a bill that created an experimental process by amending two sections of the Streets and Highways Code as follows, underlined and italicized:

890.6. The department, in cooperation with county and city governments, shall establish minimum safety design criteria for the planning and construction of bikeways and roadways where bicycle travel is permitted. The criteria shall include, but not be limited to, the design speed of the facility, minimum widths and clearances, grade, radius of curvature, pavement surface, actuation of automatic traffic control devices, drainage, and general safety. The criteria shall be updated biennially, or more often, as needed. The criteria shall include a procedure for agencies to request approval to use nonstandard planning, design, and construction features for purposes of research, experimentation, and verification.

890.8. The department shall establish uniform specifications and symbols for signs, markers, and traffic control devices to designate bikeways, regulate traffic, improve safety and convenience for bicyclists, and alert pedestrians and motorists of the presence of bicyclists on bikeways and on roadways where bicycle travel is permitted. The criteria shall include a procedure for agencies to request approval to use nonstandard signs, markers, and traffic control devices for purposes of research, experimentation, and verification.

The procedure to be instituted might resemble the existing procedure for experimental traffic control devices, which may be viewed in Section 1A.10 of the California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices at http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/traffops/signtech/mutcdsupp/index.htm, or the flowchart at http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/traffops/signtech/newtech/others/example-experimentprocess.pdf. This level of technical detail, however, would probably not be appropriate for inclusion in the bill.

We request that you change AB 819 to encourage prudent experimentation, review and adoption of bikeway design innovations.

Sincerely,
Jim Baross
CABO President

 

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