Summary of 2011 legislation

Below is a summary of legislation sponsored and tracked by the California Bicycle Coalition during the 2011 legislative session.

Bills we sponsored

SB 910 (Lowenthal): Safe passing

Summary:  Today, on too many roads, motorists pass cyclists too closely. The slightest error by the motorist or the most minor shift by a bicyclist to avoid rough pavement can lead to a collision with tragic consequences. Every year thousands of people on bicycles are injured and killed in California by such collisions.

This bill, cosponsored by the CBC and the City of Los Angeles, would require motorists to give at least 3 feet of clearance when passing a bicyclist from behind.

Status:  Vetoed by the governor on 10/7/11.

AB 345 (Atkins): Reforming the approval process for traffic control devices

Summary:  AB 345 would improve the implementation of complete streets policies by reforming the process for approving traffic control devices. The bill would establish the California Traffic Control Devices Committee, a Caltrans advisory committee, in state law (currently the committee is established through internal Caltrans policy), and require that its membership include two members appointed by Caltrans from nominees recommended by the Active Transportation Livable Communities Group, another Caltrans advisory committee that handles implementation of Caltrans’ complete streets policy. AB 345 seeks to promote the goals of  AB 1358, the Complete Streets Act of 2008, and  Caltrans Deputy Directive 64-R-1.

Status:  Placed in the Assembly’s inactive file as of 9/1/11. Caltrans has initiated a process to add two representatives and two alternates representing nonmotorized road users to the California Traffic Control Devices Committee. As Caltrans has successfully made these changes, AB 345 is not needed.


Bills we tracked

SB 28 (Simitian): Increased penalties for hand-held cell phone use while driving

Summary:  This bill increases the base fines for violating the existing ban on hand-held cell phone use and texting by drivers from $20 to $50 for a first offense and $50 to $100 for subsequent offenses and adds a point to a driver’s record for a 2nd or subsequent violation. The bill extends the existing bans to bicyclists, however, fines would be $20 for a first offense and $50 for subsequent offenses (without additional court costs and administrative fees), with no point on a bicyclist’s driving record for a violation.

CBC’s position:  SUPPORT

The rate of hand-held cell phone use and texting by drivers appears to be rising again, after an initial decline immediately following enactment of California’s hand-held cell phone and texting bans. Just as we supported the existing cell phone and texting bans, we support tougher penalties as a way to help discourage this form of distracted driving and thus provide greater protection to bicyclists and other road users who are particularly vulnerable to distracted drivers.

Extending the existing bans to bicyclists is appropriate given the growing body of research that demonstrates a significant level of cognitive impairment for anyone using a cell phone. Minimal fines for bicyclists are consistent with the minimal evidence of harm to others caused by bicyclists who use cell phones while riding.

Status:  Vetoed by the governor on 9/6/11.


AB 61 (Jeffries): Neighborhood electric vehicle plan for Riverside County

Summary:  This bill authorizes Riverside County and the cities therein to adopt, jointly or individually, a plan for the operation of neighborhood electric vehicles.

CBC’s position:  OPPOSE

Neighborhood electric vehicles help reduce reliance on petroleum-based fuels, improve air quality, and facilitate suburban mobility. Because of their size, mass and speed, NEVs are appropriately operated in mixed traffic lanes, alongside other motor vehicles.

Like other local NEV plans submitted to the Legislature pursuant to AB 2353 (Chap. 422 of 2004), this bill jeopardizes the safety of bicyclists failing to prevent the adoption of local NEV plans that could force NEVs and bicycles to share a single, separated lane. CBC supports adoption of a single statewide standard for the operation of NEVs that prohibits separate, shared NEV-bike facilities.

Status:  Signed into law by the governor on 8/4/11.


AB 147 (Dickinson): Subdivision impact fees for bicycle facilities

Summary:  The Subdivision Map Act authorizes a local agency to require the payment of a fee as a condition of approval of a final map or as a condition of issuing a building permit for purposes of defraying the actual or estimated cost of constructing bridges or major thoroughfares if specified conditions are met.
  This bill would authorize use of the fee for defraying the actual or estimated cost of other transportation facilities, including pedestrian, bicycle, transit and traffic-calming facilities, among others.

CBC’s position:  SUPPORT

Status:  Signed into law by the governor on 9/6/11.


AB 441 (Monning): Health impacts in state and regional transportation planning

Summary:  This bill would require the California Transportation Commission to include health issues, as specified, in its guidelines for the preparation of regional transportation plans.

CBC’s position:  SUPPORT

Status:  Held in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on 5/27/11.


AB 529 (Gatto): Downward speed zoning

Summary:  This bill requires Caltrans to revise its regulations so that state and local authorities have greater flexibility in setting speed limits on roads under their jurisdictions, including lowering speed limits in some cases.

CBC’s position:  SUPPORT

Status:  Signed into law by the governor on 10/7/11.

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