In response to criticism from “vehicular cyclists,” some opposed to AB 1193 which created a new class of bikeway, the separated bikeway, the California Bicycle Coalition issued this statement:
The California Bicycle Coalition will advocate for bicyclists’ access to the roadway without fail, regardless of whatever facility might be present. With regards to separated bikeways, we hope they are so well designed that everybody will choose to use them in place of the mixed traffic lanes because they’re superior, and we hope we’re so successful at encouraging bicycling that even well-designed separated bikeways overflow with cyclists into the roadway.
Advocates who oppose cycle tracks were unprepared for their arrival in the U.S., hoping they would go away, and that was a losing strategy. We wanted to encourage cycle tracks, so we wrote legislation to do that, and in so doing, ensured that cycle tracks were defined as a separate class of bikeway instead of a kind of class 2 (which would have been mandatory) and adjacent to, rather than a part of, the roadway (so that the requirement to ride as far to the right as practicable would not have compelled cycle track use). If not for us, cycle tracks would have come and been considered bike lanes and therefore mandatory. No other state did that. It was a bold maneuver to preserve cyclists’ right to the roadway when a cycle track is present. You’re welcome.
Finally, the language we use to refer to separated bikeways in public is unimportant. Thanks to us, these are class 4 bikeways not class 2 bike lanes, and that’s what matters. If the public calls them protected bike lanes — and that’s what the public will call them because that’s what they look like — it won’t change their legal status. Yes, the cops will sometimes ticket against behaviors that are not against the law, like riding outside of a cycle track, just like they currently ticket you for not riding in the gutter even though the law is clear that it’s not required. Changing that requires education of the cops (and getting lots more bicyclists out there so that cops’ family members are regular riders). Pissing into the wind calling them “separated bikeways” in public won’t make one iota of difference in getting cops not to ticket against riding in the roadway. That’s why we call them, in public, protected bike lanes, and will continue to do so, because that’s what they seem to be. Legally they’re different, thanks to us.