CEQA: Older Case Law Suggests that CEQA Should Not Prohibit Cycling

I continue to read this case study from 1972, and it’s like a time machine to back when people were sane. If you talk to young children, you get a sense of fairness. But soon, I think we are bombarded by such right wing dogma, pseudoscience, aspirational TV, narcissistic spirituality, and other kinds of nonsense which warps our sense of reality. It seems that in the early 70’s there was less of this insanity.

Like when I read sustainable safety literature, I get a deep sense of clear headed reason. To me, it’s very comforting and calming.

This is unlike most cycling news I read these days, even from people whom I agree with, where I get a sense of anxiety and discomfort. I have read that the use of fear laden words sky rocketed somewhere around 1980. I believe this.

Not that I would know. I’m not a lawyer. I’m sure that things have changed over time, and I’m not sure how much this applies to now. Thus, I call this time period “CEQA: The Early Years.”


“Once a particular legislative intent has been ascertained, it must be given effect “‘even though it may not be consistent with the strict letter of the statute.'” (Dickey v. Raisin Proration Zone No. 1 (1944) 24 Cal.2d 796, 802 [151 P.2d 505, 157 A.L.R. 324].) As we stated nearly a half century ago in In re Haines (1925) 195 Cal. 605, 613 [234 P. 883]: “‘The mere literal construction of a section in a statute ought not to prevail if it is opposed to the intention of the legislature apparent by the statute; and if the words are sufficiently flexible to admit of some other construction it is to be adopted to effectuate that intention. The intent prevails over the letter, and the letter will, if possible, be so read as to conform to the spirit of the act.'”

The intent of CEQA is to help the environment. Getting more people cycling will help the environment. Thus the intent of CEQA is to INCREASE CYCLING. Anything cycling infrastructure, that follows all other regulations, should be except from CEQA.

This is really common sense.

People who say otherwise either don’t have a clue or don’t like bicycles. It’s as simple as that.

To stop traffic calming and the building of pedestrian and cycling facilities due to CEQA renders the actual law meaningless. Again, since this is so obvious, I believe that this is the intent of those who seek to abuse this law. I am speculating, but I feel that people must get a malicious thrill by damaging the environment by using the law intended to protect the environment.

Next, we deal with the fact that cycling infrastructure can be built only if environmental impact reports are filed. However,

“The use of these [environmental impact] reports by the planning agencies mentioned in Government Code section 65402 is secondary to the principal purpose of section 21151, which is to compel local governments to study and record the environmental implications of proposed activities before they are acted upon. This broad purpose cannot be frustrated by procedural details surrounding filing of the reports.”

Thus, the benefit that people cycling gives to the environment should not be frustrated by extra paper work. There’s no way someone who wrote this law would agree with that.

Another reason that environmental impart reports [EIRS] are not necessary is because cycling does not significantly negatively harm the enivornment. In fact, it helps the environment when people do it in lie of motoring.

Again, the older court agrees:

“”We emphasize that by the terms of the act an environmental impact report is required only for a project “which may have a significant effect on the environment”

Also, in the “early CEQA years” they did not expect EVERY SINGLE BIKE LANE TO GO BEFORE CEQA:

“For the reasons given above, however, we expect that the majority of the private projects for which governmental approval will be sought in the future will present no risk of significant environmental effect and therefore will not require impact reports in any event.”

I know this says private project, but I think that they meant that this would apply to government projects as well in light of the court’s interpretation of the words “significant effect to the environment.”



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