Until very recently a very important bicycle lane design, one specifically intended to make bicycling safe from cars, did not legally exists. Some of the leaders in safe bicycle lane designs went ahead and copied designs from Europe and other cities who were progressive in promoting safe bicycling like San Francisco. Some cities such as Cupertino were more cautious about being progressive due to the potential of lawsuits since such bicycle lane designs were not legally specified by any government standards or bill.
This has recently changed in California as the state passed AB 1193 and the governor signed it into law on September 20, 2014 which legally introduces a class of Protected Bike Lane otherwise called Class IV (4) Protected Cycletracks. I have already had discussions about Protected Bike Lane designs. The photos in the header of this website are examples of protected bike lanes. In essence these are bicycle lanes where there is some kind of physical barrier such as a curb or planters or parked cars separating car traffic from bicycle traffic. The law describes this concept as separated bikeways. This new law legitimizes cities who have already installed such protected bicycle lanes. All cities are now free to us best practice designs for their situations without fear of lawsuits unless grossly negligent. All that is required is a public hearing to explain to the public the design and benefit of the cycletrack and get their buy-in. This law allows a very broad scope of separated bikeways to be used which is great. European countries who encourage bicycling as a primary means of transportation have over many decades designed very good and well tested separated bikeways for us to study and adopt.
On May 28, 2015 there will convene in Sacramento a group of people who will get together to propose various designs to be incorporated into the Caltrans specifications which can be used by municipalities as guidelines. This allows cities to design cycletracks most relevant to their situation and removes bureaucratic rules that may not cover every situation.
This opens the prospect of physically protected bike lane which will make bicycling far safer for people of all ages and proficiencies in riding bikes. As a senior I am loosing my dexterity and ability to skillfully ride my bike. I can still ride my bike fairly well but when doing so in traffic I sometimes loose my confidence. With such bicycle lanes I will be able o ride my bike safely much further than I do today. This is not the reason I am proposing safe bicycle lanes. I envision bicycles as a long-term solution to sustainable growth which is not possible with cars due to space, safety, and a drain on resources. But if I could experience such improvements in my lifetime I would be pleased.
The City of Cupertino’s Bicycle Pedestrian Commission is now looking into implementing Class IV cycletracks along its major road corridors and near some schools where traffic congestion is most problematic and hiring a consultant to advise them. This is a great step forward. I hope that they can make this as a priority item rather than something that is going to take 10-20 years. I’d personally like to travel on one of these Class IV cycletracks in our city while I am still alive. Something to look forward to.
To learn more see: Q&A about Class IV Cycle Tracks