In our letter to Assemblymember Wieckowski, we expressed opposition to Assembly Bill 819 unless amended. AB819 will be amended, and CABO is now in support.
AB 819 would have permitted local agencies to follow “innovative” bikeway design guidelines from sources other than the Caltrans Highway Design Manual, as currently mandated by law. The reasoning for our opposition is in the Assembly Transportation Committee analysis, quoted from our letter:
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.
As indicated in the bill analysis, the Assembly Transportation Committee recommended that AB819 be amended to specifically require procedures allowing local agencies to request Caltrans to consider innovative and modified bikeway project designs, and the author and sponsor of the bill have agreed to these amendments. This addresses our concerns above, and so CABO is now in support of AB819.