California Governor Newsom approved of a recent bill that will directly impact cyclists in the state. San Francisco State Senator Scott Wiener introduced the bill earlier this year. There was a bit of a lag between introduction and passage within the legislative session and official passage by the governor due to the current coronavirus pandemic. However, this past September the governor signed the piece of legislation into law.
What is the law?
The proposal that was passed specifically addresses reviews under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). CEQA, a broad environmental law, helps to guide the permitting and approval process for projects throughout the state. Lawmakers passed the law with the intent of reducing the environmental impact of these projects. However, critics point out the reality is the law has held back a number of environmentally friendly projects.
How could lawmakers fix this problem?
Que a discussion of potential solutions. Lawmakers came together and put together the proposal noted above. Essentially, the proposal carves out an exception for certain projects. Projects that fit within the exception can move forward without the extra expense and time that comes with completion of all the processes required for approval under CEQA.
Examples of projects that may fall within this exception include safer streets for biking, bridge repairs and zero emission vehicle charging infrastructure installation.
How does this impact cyclists?
Previously developers could not move a project forward until completing all the steps required by CEQA. Now, developers that are looking to complete projects, like the addition of bike lanes and other cyclist friendly improvements to help keep cyclists safe, may be able to move forward without these extra requirements.