After COVID sidetracked much of California’s legislative agenda (and all of CalBike’s bills) in 2020, this year is off to a busy start. CalBike 2021 legislation includes three bills we are sponsoring that will be crucial in creating a more equitable, bicycling-friendly California. Your team in Sacramento is actively working on four additional bills and keeping an eye on another 16 pieces of legislation.
CalBike’s sponsored bills
In 2020, we laid out a plan for reducing the role of police in traffic enforcement. Every pretext for a police stop is an opportunity for police to target, harass, and attack Black and brown Californians.
It will take more than a change in traffic laws to change a culture of brutality toward BIPOC people from law enforcement. However, we think that two bills we’re sponsoring that legalize commonsense behaviors help reduce opportunities for pretextual policing.
Ending unjust “jaywalking” laws
Authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting, this bill will repeal jaywalking laws. It makes legal the common practice of safely crossing a street mid-block or crossing against the light if there’s no traffic present.
Decriminalizing walking across the street is a step toward correcting years of neglected infrastructure. Many residents of underserved neighborhoods have no choice but to “jaywalk” on streets without adequate sidewalks, crosswalks, or traffic controls. In addition, jaywalking is inequitably enforced, with Black Californians more than four times as likely to be stopped as their white counterparts.
The Freedom to Walk Act will take off the books a “crime” that harms no one and often reflects commonsense choices by pedestrians in a car-centric world.
The Freedom to Walk Act was approved by the Assembly Transportation Committee on April 26 and will soon come before the full Assembly for a vote. Show your support for this critical bill: sign the petition to decriminalize jaywalking.
Bringing the “Idaho stop” to California
In 1982, Idaho made it legal for people on bikes to treat stop signs as yields. Many states have since followed suit, including Oregon, Washington, and Delaware. A study from Delaware found that, after the bike-stop-as-yield became law, crashes involving bikes and cars at intersections decreased by 23%. This bill will bring California in line with our West Coast neighbors and improve bike safety.
If AB 122 becomes law, it will be legal for people on bikes to do what most of us already do: slow down at a stop sign, proceed if the way is clear, or stop and yield to pedestrians or other traffic. Legalizing the bicycle safety stop also counters racial disparities by removing one more pretext for potentially lethal police traffic stops.
The Assembly approved the Bicycle Safety Stop Bill on April 22, by a vote of 53-11. We’ll need your help to get it through the California Senate. In the meantime, sign the petition to show your support for the Bicycle Safety Stop Law.
CalBike’s E-Bike Affordability Program
Our third sponsored bill is part of a campaign that CalBike has been working on for several years. We know that e-bikes are very effective at replacing car trips, and we know we need to drastically reduce driving to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis. In 2019, we passed SB 400, which added e-bikes to the Clean Cars 4 All program. This year, we’re looking for greatly expanded funding to make e-bikes affordable to more Californians.
The E-Bike Affordability Bill creates a program to give purchase incentives for e-bikes, much like the electric car program run by the state. However, the bill doesn’t set the amount of funding. In addition to passing AB 117, we will advocate for initial funding of $10 million for e-bikes in the budget process.
The E-Bike Affordability Bill unanimously passed the Assembly Transportation Committee and will soon be ready for a floor vote. We need lots of support to make this vital program a reality. Sign the petition to demand that California subsidize e-bikes as it does electric cars.
Other priority legislation
CalBike is supporting or opposing several additional bills. We are working to ensure that the needs of people who rely on active transportation are heard in Sacramento.
Improving transportation planning
AB 1147: Transportation Plan Improvements (Friedman)
AB 1147 will require regional transportation agencies to ensure that their transportation plans meet California’s goals to reduce the miles people travel in their cars. It calls for a grant program to build the safe biking infrastructure to achieve a “15-minute city.” That’s a place where every typical destination can be reached by most people with a 15-minute bike ride. CalBike is working with the author to ensure that the grant program incentivizes city leaders to build truly effective networks, even when they impact car traffic or parking.
Opposing a threat to bike and scooter sharing
AB-371: Death to Shared Mobility Bill (Jones-Sawyer)
AB 371 rehashes an onerous insurance requirement that CalBike managed to kill in the legislature last year. It would require scooter and bike-share systems to carry insurance not just to cover their legitimate liability for product defects and malfunctions (which they already do) but to cover any injury to someone using their systems, no matter what the cause. The cost of this would drive micromobility systems out of California. Plus, there’s no carve-out for municipal systems, like the one operated by LA’s Metro or nonprofit bike libraries. We support a provision in the bill to make devices accessible to vision-impaired people for reporting purposes, but the rest of this measure is toxic. CalBike is working hard to defeat it.
AB-550: Speed Safety Systems Pilot Program (Chiu)
This measure will allow six California cities to establish pilot programs to enforce speed limits with cameras. The cities on the list are Oakland, San Jose, and San Francisco in northern California; Los Angeles and two other cities to be determined in Southern California. The bill imposes strict limits on programs to protect privacy and limit fines (including add-on fees) to $125. Automated enforcement of speed limits has proven to reduce crashes dramatically. Because of the limitations included in this bill, CalBike may make an exception to our typical refusal to support enforcement as a traffic safety strategy.
Lowering speed limits for safety
AB 43: Makes It Easier to Lower Speed Limits (Friedman, Ting, Chiu, and Quirk)
AB 43 reforms the infamous 85th percentile rule. This rule requires agencies to set speed limits at the nearest 5-mph increment to the speed of the 15th fastest driver out of 100. In effect, this rewards drivers for speeding. The bill will broaden exceptions to the rule and allow for speed limits as low as 20 mph and 15 mph. Lower speeds are crucial for neighborhood Slow Streets.
CalBike 2021 legislation watch list
The bills we are watching include measures to do away with parking minimums in buildings near transit, setbacks to keep oil drilling away from homes and schools, school zone speed cameras, and more. Our Legislative Watch page has the full rundown, including the latest status of all this year’s bills.
CalBike couldn’t do the work we do in Sacramento to stand up for active transportation and people who ride bikes without the support of our many members. Please consider joining or renewing your membership today.