S.F. bike plan injunction to cost city $35K

An injunction against San Francisco's citywide bike plan will cost The City's Municipal Transportation Agency at least $35,000 for painting a street twice.

Activists with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition on Thursday rode from the intersection of North Point Street and The Embarcadero to City Hall to call attention to the money they say The City will waste because of an injunction leveled against the implementation of The City's bicycle plan, a document that serves as a master plan for bicycle-oriented changes to streets citywide.

The injunction, leveled June 16, is the result of a lawsuit filed by the activist group Coalition for Adequate Review. The lawsuit alleges that San Francisco did not conduct an environmental impact review on the plan as required by the California Environmental Quality Act.

The Department of Public Works recently finished repaving North Point Street, and the Department of Parking and Traffic is preparing to paint lane markers. Under the bicycle plan, the street, which is already a designated bike route, would get striped with bike lanes. With the injunction in place, however, the street will be striped without bike lanes and then most likely re-striped with bike lanes, at a cost of $35,000, once the lawsuit is resolved. The Bicycle Coalition cited it as an example of waste caused by the injunction.

“Even the plaintiffs would probably agree that in six months to a year there will be bike lanes on North Point,” bicycle coalition program director Andy Thornley said. He called for a resolution to the lawsuit so that the bike lanes could go in.

Meanwhile, the Municipal Transportation Agency, which administers the bicycle plan, reported that it stands to lose $1.1 million in grants over the next 12 months if it can't spend the money on the plan.

But Rob Anderson, founder of CAR and a plaintiff on the lawsuit, said he will not drop the lawsuit. “The City could have saved a lot of money if they had just done an EIR (environmental impact review) up front,” he said Thursday.

The City argued in court that the bike plan was exempt from the CEQA environmental review requirement because it was certain it would not have an impact on the environment. Anderson said it impacts the streetscape by removing parking and traffic lanes.

“If they're going to come in and take away a traffic lane and street parking in a neighborhood, that neighborhood should have fair warning,” he said.

City attorney spokesman Matt Dorsey said The City is trying to come to a speedy resolution, but will have to follow the rules of the court and The City's charter.

The next hearing date on the lawsuit is Sept. 13.

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