A San Francisco Superior Court judge today ruled that a final decision on whether to lift an injunction and allow full implementation of the city’s bicycle network is at least a few weeks away.
Closing arguments were heard today from Deputy City Attorney Audrey Pearson as well as from Mary Miles, an attorney for opponents of the plan. The opposition includes the Coalition of Adequate Review, a group headed by local blogger Rob Anderson.
Judge Peter Busch ruled today that each side has two weeks to submit proposed orders to each other and the court. They then have an additional week to respond to the other side’s submission, meaning a final decision won’t be made until at least July 13.
Busch has 90 days from today to issue a ruling.
New projects on the city’s bike network have begun in recent months after a four-year injunction was partially lifted in November.
San Francisco officials originally drafted the city’s bike plan in 1997 and had its updated framework approved in 2005. Opponents of the plan were granted an injunction that same year requiring that an environmental impact report be completed and certified before the plan moved forward.
The San Francisco Planning Commission approved the environmental report in June, but its adequacy was challenged by the opposition groups.
During the arguments in court today, Miles focused on the omission of a section in the environmental review that considered “avoiding the impact altogether (caused by) some parts of the project.”
Pearson countered that the city ended up only adopting 45 of about 60 projects that were initially proposed for the network, which would eventually include 34 additional miles of bike lanes along with some changes to the existing 45-mile network.
“It’s almost impossible to eliminate all the impacts” of the projects since they would be taking place on already established roads, some of which have been there since the 1800s, Pearson said.
Busch seemed to lose patience at times with some of Miles’ complaints and suggestions.
“You’re describing an endless process that would be impossible to comply with,” he said.
He did, however, also thoroughly question Pearson about a portion of the environmental impact report that Miles claimed “rejected alternatives as infeasible without explaining why.”
After Busch’s ruling, Renee Rivera, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, said she was disappointed that a final decision won’t be made for a few more weeks, but that she was still hopeful the judge will rule in the coalition’s favor.
“We’re really looking forward to the day he fully makes the decision,” Rivera said. “We have 35 projects in the queue, ready to go, and all we need is the injunction to be lifted.”
Anderson, the long-time opponent of the city’s bike plan, said he was “pretty confident.”
“(Busch) doesn’t want to rule in our favor, but I think he has serious legal doubts about the case,” he said.