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Legislative Update: Bike-Friendly Bills at the Midpoint

The team at the California Bicycle Coalition tracks bills that affect active transportation.

Note: This post was originally published on the California Bicycle Coalition's blog.

On Friday, May 24, bills had to be voted out of the house where they originated.

Only two of the bills supported by the California Bicycle Coalition died in committee, and one we opposed was amended so we were able to switch our position to neutral. The legislative process includes many amendments along the way, and we continue to fight for changes to make our measures stronger as our legislative agenda passes to the next house.

Here’s where bike-friendly bills stand at the halfway point of the 2024 legislative session.

Bills Moving Forward

2024 Complete Streets Bill: Passed by the Senate. S.B. 960, authored by Senator Scott Wiener, would require Caltrans to implement safe infrastructure for people bicycling and walking when it repaves a state route that serves as a local street. The 2024 version adds transit, which is a welcome improvement. CalBike is working behind the scenes for a strong bill that will require Caltrans to meet its obligations to vulnerable road users. We need everyone’s help to make sure legislators know this bill has strong support. Find the latest action on our Complete Streets Campaign page.

Safe Vehicles Save Lives Bill: Passed by the Senate. S.B. 961 is the second half of Senator Wiener’s safer streets package, along with the Complete Streets Bill. The requirement for truck side guards, a cheap fix that would make truck collisions less deadly, was removed due to lobbying by the trucking industry. The provision requiring intelligent speed assist (ISA) software on new vehicles starting in 2027 survived, though it was changed from speed limiters, which would prevent speeding, to warnings that alert drivers when they exceed the speed limit. We still strongly support this bill as a measure to move California closer to Vision Zero. We hope truck side guards will come back to the legislature in the future.

Quicker and Better Bikeways Bill: Passed Assembly. A.B. 2290 by Assemblymember Laura Friedman would limit state funding for Class III bikeways (or bike routes) to streets with speed limits under 20 mph, remove loopholes and strengthen requirements for creating Complete Streets on state and local street projects funded by the Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Program created by S.B. 1, and create a quick-build pilot program at Caltrans. It passed the Assembly but appears headed towards opposition in the Senate. Stay tuned for opportunities to take action in support of this excellent bill.

In addition to our top three priority bills, these bills CalBike supports have passed their first house:

  • A.B. 2086, Schiavo: Caltrans Accountability and Transparency Bill. Passed Assembly. This bill would bring greater transparency to how Caltrans spends its budget and enhance a public dashboard to make it easier to access agency data.
  • A.B. 2259, Boerner: California Bike Smart Safety Handbook. Passed Assembly. This bill would require the DMV to create a bicycle safety handbook that includes information on, among other things, existing laws regulating bicycles and e-bikes. 
  • A.B. 2583, Berman: Lowering Speed in School Zones. Passed Assembly. This bill would establish a default speed limit of 15 miles per hour in school zones during certain hours.
  • A.B. 2669, Ting: No Bridge Tolls for People Walking and Biking. Passed Assembly. This bill would ensure that people walking or bicycling across a toll bridge in California will never pay a fee. It makes permanent a temporary measure that sunsets next year and primarily affects bridges in the Bay Area.
  • S.B. 689, Blakespear: Bike Lanes in Coastal Areas. Passed Senate. This bill would make it easier to convert an existing motorized vehicle travel lane into a dedicated bicycle lane near the coast, ending special requirements for a traffic study to process a coastal development permit or an amendment to a local coastal program.
  • S.B. 1216, Blakespear: Prohibiting Class III Bikeways. Passed Senate. This bill would prohibit public agencies and the Active Transportation Program from building a Class III bikeway (sharrows) on a street that has a posted speed limit greater than 30 miles per hour. It duplicates a provision in the Quicker Better Bikeways Bill that will be reconciled as both of these bills move forward.
  • S.B. 1271, Min: E-Bike Battery Standards. Passed Senate. This bill would set certification requirements for batteries on all e-bikes sold, rented, or leased in California, mirroring some local statutes. A provision to clarify e-bike classifications was dropped from this bill; we hope that comes back because the market would benefit from more clarity about what is an e-bike vs. a moped.
  • S.B. 1509, Stern: Unsafe Speed Penalties. Passed Senate. This bill would increase accountability for reckless drivers who endanger lives by speeding. Specifically, it would increase the number of points a driver is given by the DMV if they are caught driving more than 25 mph over the speed limit on roads with a speed limit of 55 mph or less.

Three additional bills from 2023 became two-year bills and are already in their second house. The crucial hearings and votes for these bills will be in the next month. We are closely watching A.B. 73, the Safety Stop Bill, which we hope will get revived before the end of this session.

  • A.B. 6, Friedman: Regional Prioritization for Clean Transportation. This measure would require regional transportation agencies to prioritize and fund transportation projects that significantly contribute toward regional and state climate goals.
  • A.B. 73, Boerner/Friedman: Bicycle Safety Stop.This bill would legalize the practice of treating a stop sign as a yield sign for bike riders over 18 years old.
  • A.B. 833, Rendon: Neighborhood Unification Bill. This bill would require Caltrans to prepare a plan for adding caps to freeway segments to reunite disadvantaged, underrepresented urban communities.

The Ones that Didn’t Make It

The No Freeway Expansions for Freight Bill, A.B. 2535 by Assemblymember Mia Bonta, would have taken away one of Caltrans’ justifications for adding new freeway capacity. We need fewer highways, not more; every new lane induces new demand and increases GHG emissions. Unfortunately, this excellent bill died in committee.

The Bike Lane Protection Act, A.B. 2744 from Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, aimed to protect bike riders from right hooks, but solving this problem with dedicated space for bikes approaching intersections is complex. This was a valiant effort to create safer intersections, and though it died in committee this year, we hope it keeps getting developed and returns in the future.

CalBike’s Legislation Watchlist

The one bill CalBike opposed, A.B. 2234 by Assemblymember Tasha Boerner, is no longer a statewide e-bike licensing bill. It has been amended to pilot local e-bike age restrictions and an education diversion program for tickets. CalBike has gone from oppose to neutral on this bill, but we will continue to watch it as it moves through the Senate.

Among the other bills we’re watching but haven’t taken a position on, most are advancing to the next house.

CalBike watchlist bills moving forward

These bills were two-year bills waiting to be heard or advanced out of their house of origin.

  • A.B. 832 – Cervantes: California Transportation Commission Membership
  • A.B. 1447 – Flora: E-Scooter Classification
  • A.B. 1774 – Dixon: E-Bike Modifications
  • A.B. 1777– Ting: Autonomous Vehicles
  • A.B. 1778 – Connolly: E-Bike Restrictions in Marin County
  • A.B. 1953 – Villapudua: Vehicle Weight Limits
  • A.B. 2286 – Aguiar-Curry: Autonomous Vehicle Safety
  • A.B. 3061 – Haney: Autonomous Vehicle Safety
  • S.B. 50 – Bradford: Stop Pretextual Policing
  • S.B. 768 – Caballero: VMT Study
  • S.B. 915 – Cortese: Autonomous Vehicle Local Control
  • S.B. 936 – Seyarto: Study for Road and Safety Improvements
  • S.B. 1031 – Wiener/Wahab: San Francisco Bay Area Local Transit Revenue Measure
CalBike watchlist bills that died

Three of our watchlist bills didn’t make it:

  • A.B. 1773 – Dixon: Banning Bikes on Boardwalks
  • A.B. 2869 – Friedman: Caltrans Trail Access
  • A.B. 3147 – Garcia: California Trails Conservancy

There are many bills impacting active transportation this year, and we’re heavily involved in budget negotiations to restore Active Transportation Program funding. There will surely be more twists and turns before the legislative session ends. Stay up to date on bike-friendly legislation on CalBike’s Legislative Watch page and track our progress on the budget on our Invest/Divest page.

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