Legislative Update: Brown Signs Bills on Electric Vehicles, Bike Miles Driven, Street Vending

Bikes parked in front of the California State Capitol building in Sacramento
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Note: Governor Brown has until the end of September to decide the fate of a slew of bills passed by the legislature just before it ended its session in August. Streetsblog continues to cover what he’s signed, what he’s vetoed, and what still awaits its fate:

Encouraging Zero Emission Vehicles, Including Bikes: Last week Governor Brown signed a group of “green” bills aimed at getting more people in California to drive electric vehicles, including ones that give more incentives and rebates for replacing gas cars with electric ones.

One of the more interesting of those was S.B. 1014 from Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), which sets up California agencies to begin regulating greenhouse gas emissions from ride-hail companies such as Uber and Lyft. Streetsblog covered this bill earlier; it began life as an attempt to get the companies to shift to electric vehicles, then to set targets for them to reduce emissions. But in the process of working through the legislature it was reworked and amended to set up a pathway for future reductions.

That is, the new law will require cooperation between the California Public Utilities Commission—currently charged with regulating ride-hail companies as a legacy of their oversight of taxi companies—and the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which has been working on a number of programs to increase and encourage electric vehicle use and infrastructure to help meet the greenhouse gas emissions reductions that agency oversees. By 2020, CARB will establish a baseline of emissions per passenger mile driven by ride-hail services. It will have one more year to then set greenhouse gas reduction targets for those companies beginning in 2023.

In addition, the ride-hail companies will be required to come up with their own plan to reduce emissions, while “ensuring minimal impact” to low-income drivers and supporting clean mobility goals for low- and moderate-income individuals.

The most interesting part of the bill, at least for sustainable transportation advocates, is that those targets would credit companies for miles driven by “qualified zero-emission means, including miles completed by vehicle, walking, biking, other modes of active transportation, and zero-emission vehicles.”

Which means that Uber and Lyft, both of which own or invest in e-bike, bike-share, and/or and shared scooters, will have big incentives to improve and expand those services to get as many people using them as possible.

Not that they are waiting for those incentives; Alissa Walker at Curbed notes that the Lyft app is already adding locations of scooters, shared e-bikes, and transit routes, in addition to the nearest Lyft drivers.

Sidewalk Vending Is Legal: Brown also signed S.B. 946 from Assemblymember Richard Lara (D-Bell Gardens), which Streetsblog L.A. Editor Sahra Sulaiman wrote about extensively. That legislation will limit a local authority’s ability to pass onerous and punitive measures to control and regulate sidewalk vending. It also recognizes in statute the benefits of allowing sidewalk vendors to pursue their work in peace, including increased access to goods and contributing to a safe and dynamic public space.

More Bikes on Buses: Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) authored yet another bill to allow transit buses to install bigger bike racks. With A.B. 3124, 60-foot articulated buses will now be allowed to install racks that can hold up to three bikes, as long as certain route conditions are met.

Bike and Pedestrian Access to Parks: Assemblymember Wendy Carillo (D-Los Angeles) had her bill, A.B. 2615, signed today. That bill requires Caltrans, “where feasible and cost effective,” to work with other departments “to develop strategies and plans to improve access for bicycles and pedestrians to federal, state, regional, and local parks adjacent to or connected to the state highway system.”

No Fine for First Citation for Not Wearing a Bike Helmet: Assemblymember Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) found a partial solution for youth cited for not having a helmet: if it’s their first offense, they don’t have to pay a fine, according to A.B. 3077. They will have to know about this law, however, to be able to benefit from it, and the bike helmet law, which can discourage bike use, will remain in effect.

Horse and People Safety: A bill to study equestrian safety, A.B. 2955 from Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), also got signed. This one would add equestrian safety to considerations used when setting speed limits in certain parts of Burbank, Glendale, and Los Angeles. Note that Friedman’s bill to rationalize the way speed limits are set statewide—which was reduced to the establishment of a task force to study the issue, and others—is still waiting for the governor’s pen.

Note that the e-scooter bill, A.B. 2989, which Streetsblog has been watching and writing about, is also still awaiting its fate.

CTC Independence: On the veto pile is the second, or third, attempt by Assemblymember Jim Frazier to remove the California Transportation Commission from the oversight of the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA). That agency was formed in 2012, under the direction of Governor Brown, to bring some cohesiveness to the way California plans, finances, and regulates transportation. Brown vetoed A.B. 2734 with a message pointing out that he has already affirmed the CTC’s independent authority.  “No evidence has been presented which would suggest a need to now change the existing framework,” he wrote.

Will Frazier, who sits on the CTC as an ex-officio member, try again with a new governor? History says: that’s likely.

3 thoughts on Legislative Update: Brown Signs Bills on Electric Vehicles, Bike Miles Driven, Street Vending

  1. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s there was a huge program by the federal government for hybrid vehicles among the big three automakers. They got millions of dollars to produce hybrids. Toyota and Honda did not participate…who put hybrids on the market first, was it the big three? or Toyota and Honda………….who’s hybrids are more popular? Obviously it’s Toyota and Honda. Subsidization does not equal incentivize. Ford’s decision to focus on making the bigger vehicles people want shows why the current rules are a terrible way to regulate emissions. And IT WASN’T JUST FORD. Foreign automakers alike such as VW and Hyundai also wrote letters to the Trump Admin for CAFE standard relaxation. It makes perfect sense for Ford to make trucks rather than cars, just as it does for Toyota Motor Corp. to make hybrids. Whether the target is cars or smartphones, however, it makes no sense to dictate a company’s product offering in order to pretend to fight climate change. The big problem now is some cars are getting engines too small for their
    mass, so the engine has to work harder to move the car in real world
    driving to the detriment of fuel economy; a big engine that doesn’t have to work hard is more efficient than a little engine that has to struggle.

  2. How is the industry working towards greener vehicles? They continue to push SUVs, due to their higher profit margins and despite their inefficiency and danger to pedestrians. Manufacturers started petitioning the government to ease fuel efficiency requirements as soon as the administration changed in 2016. Regulatory standards, which have been around for many years now, have played a big role in establishing the greener products we have in the market today. Because the automobile industry doesn’t pay for the pollution of its vehicles, and because of consumer preferences (which is surely influenced by industry marketing), there’s little pressure for change without some coercion. This, so far, has come from government regulations and mandates.

  3. If California is pushing for more clean energy standards and mandates for more electric cars on the road; with a plan to ban gas powered
    cars by the 2040s (Coincidentally the timeframe in which HSR will be
    largely available for public use) all the while whether it’s car or
    train; both are powered by electricity from the same power supply. So what
    difference does it make emissions wise if both technologies are powered
    by the same electric supply that is supposedly clean? Nevermind the fact California is paying for high speed rail and other transit projects using funding it obtains from carbon taxes; not a significant source of funding either; especially if California
    succeeds in reducing emissions with it’s energy policy; they’ll reduce their funding? On one end,
    politicians are bad mouthing automobiles then smiling for
    voters for endeavors to push for cars to get greener. Given HSR’s time
    delays it wont be operating SF to LA service until at least 2040, by
    then if this policy goes well and manufacturing trends in EV’s continue to grow they’ll be between 2-10 million electric cars, plug in hybrid vehicles and regular hybrid vehicles on the state
    roads by 2030, not to mention if the cities and county bus
    services electrify their fleets? As EV tech matures, it’ll supplant gas powered by virtue of cost saving, so it can be done without any state or federal contributions.

    The big question is why do legislators feel so compelled to push something industry is working towards anyway. Politicians need to pass laws to feel
    useful, especially where the economy is growing by removing laws and regulation from the books than install additional ones. America’s been around for about 250 years almost and
    they’re running out of ideas and laws to pass. So they’ve evolved to become
    the third parent where they regulate the daily comings/goings of your
    life; what goes on in your bedroom, what you eat, drink, what you should drink with (straw law) and what you say, can or cant say;
    where you say it, how you get around, HOW YOU SHOULD GET AROUND, what you get around with.

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