SACRAMENTO, California (October 3, 2023) – A slate of six critical active transit bills supported by CalBike are now on Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk. Governor Newsom has until October 14 to sign or veto bills. If he takes no action, the bills become law.
“Taken together, these laws will improve biking, walking, and transit. In an era of increasingly extreme climate disruption, our overarching goal must be to help Californians get to where they need go using active transportation,” said Jared Sanchez, policy director, CalBike. “All these measures have the added benefit of reducing auto-related traffic deaths.”
AB 825 Bryan: Safe Passage for Bikes
The Safe Passage for Bikes Bill allows bicycle riding on a sidewalk adjacent to a street that does not include a Class I, Class II, or Class IV bikeway. The bill will take away a justification for traffic stops that may be racially biased and give people on bikes safer places to ride on dangerous streets with no bikeways. In addition, the bill includes provisions to protect pedestrians and give them the right of way on sidewalks. AB 825 is a positive step toward decriminalization and bike rider safety.
AB 413 Lee: Daylighting to Save Lives
Intersections are the most common sites of collisions involving people walking and biking. The daylighting bill prohibits stopping, standing, or parking a vehicle within 20 feet of any unmarked or marked crosswalk. This is a crucial measure that will improve safety by increasing visibility.
AB 645 Friedman: Automated Speed Enforcement
The Automated Speed Enforcement Bill establishes an automated speed safety pilot program in six jurisdictions: the cities of Los Angeles, San Jose, Oakland, Glendale, and Long Beach, and the City and County of San Francisco. Cities must give 30-day notice before the program starts, and tickets issued for the first 60 days will be warnings only, with no fines.
Automated speed enforcement is a proven deterrent to speeding in other states and is crucial to making California streets safer, since speed is a major factor in collisions involving serious injuries and fatalities.
[Editor’s Note: Automated speed enforcement programs in many major cities also disproportionately target Black and Latino motorists, despite being ostensibly race-neutral. Source: https://www.propublica.org/article/chicagos-race-neutral-traffic-cameras-ticket-black-and-latino-drivers-the-most]
AB 819 Bryan: Decriminalizing Transit Fare Evasion
This bill decriminalizes fare evasion by removing it as a misdemeanor classification. Offenders can still be fined, but potential penalties would not include jail time. In an ideal world, public transit would be free and frequent, with no need for police to check fares. Unfortunately, too often civic budget priorities won’t fund free public transit, but AB 819 is a step in the right direction.
AB 251 Ward: Deadly Oversized Cars
The Deadly Oversized Cars Bill convenes a task force to study the relationship between vehicle weight and injuries to pedestrians and cyclists, and to study the costs and benefits of imposing a passenger vehicle weight fee. If California adds a weight fee, it could serve as a disincentive for manufacturers to make and consumers to purchase heavier SUVs and trucks.
SB 695 Gonzalez: Caltrans Freeway Data
This data transparency measure will require Caltrans to prepare and make available information and data about activities on the state highway system on a public portal. CalBike believes having more visibility into Caltrans projects is crucial for advocates because it will make it much easier to direct efforts where they will have the most impact.
Passage of these measures will represent a crucial advance in equitable use of California streets and roads, providing increased safety for vulnerable road users and making it easier for Californians to choose low- and no-carbon transportation.