CV Link – Bad Politics for Valley Bicycling

      CV Link is the motor vehicle roadway being designed for use by DMV licensed small electric passenger cars. The route is intended to link eight of the nine valley cities from Palm Springs to Coachella using a 50+ mile route that’s mostly on the Whitewater River channel embankment. These small electric vehicles are currently defined by DMV as having attainable speeds of 20mph but not more than 25mph. Those attainable speed requirements for users of CV Link are not mandatory and the future may see the need for higher speed attainment limits.

     The poor public relations evidenced by the founders and management of the CV Link project has and undoubtedly will continue to represent bad politics for the Coachella Valley bicycling community. The project never benefited from a vote of valley residents, no valley-wide written notices of hearings have ever been mailed and many of the early descriptions and/or promises have changed. These public relations failures may haunt the project for years to come and more so because of the number of undocumented expectations of benefits claimed for the project, that are sure to be exposed as little more than hyperbole intended to sway the masses. When it comes to public projects people don’t quickly forget the promises that failed to materialize along with the project’s completion.

     The dream of most bicyclists is that California become a bicycling mecca, a paradise, one that accords equal treatment to both motorized and non-motorized forms of transportation. There have been many victories and obstacles overcome resulting in bicyclists now having legal rights to use of lanes on public roadways. One of the most significant victories is the requirement that new and upgraded public roadways and bridges include separate lanes for bicycle use. Those lanes can be separated from motor vehicle lanes with a white stripe or a divider. The purpose is the eliminate the sharing of a single lane between motor vehicles and bicycles.

     CV Link is a motor vehicle route that has been legally determined to qualify for Measure “A” roadway transportation funds. In the CVAG June 1, 2015 “Legal Opinion on Use of Measure A funding CV Link” it’s defined as a “highway” and “roadway” as defined in Vehicle Code Sections 360 and 530, for “vehicles” as defined in Vehicle Code Section 670; and one that “has characteristics that make it similar to a typical road improvement” that “would operate as a regional facility initially connecting eight of the nine cities in the Coachella Valley and three Indian reservations.” Therefore, “… a strong argument can be made that the LSEV Component is a “regional road improvement” under Measure A”.

     The fact that the CV Link roadway will not have bicycle lanes separate from motor vehicles represents a setback for the bicycling equal transportation facilities movement. That roadway separation right was one dearly won and allowing a newly constructed roadway to proceed without the need for compliance represents bad politics. In future years the usage characteristics of CV Link may change to meet social, political, tourism or maintenance needs that will result in it its use by vehicles faster than 25mph or in numbers greater than currently anticipated. That’s when the failure to include separate bicycle lanes may become a source of genuine regret. That’s when the real cost of bad politics may be realized.

Bond Shands
June 3, 2015
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