All bills that are going to advance need to move from their house of origin by the end of this week. That halfway mark is a good point to take stock of the bills on the CalBike legislative agenda. Spoiler alert: it’s almost all good news.
CalBike’s Three Sponsored Bills Pass their First House
CalBike’s three sponsored bills all passed their first significant test with decisive majority votes on the Assembly floor. However, bills often face their toughest test in the second House, so we still have a lot of work to do before declaring victory.
E-Bike Purchase Incentives
AB 117 (Boerner Horvath), the E-Bike Affordability Program, passed the Assembly by a vote of 74 to 2. As introduced, AB 117 would have created an e-bike incentive program in the California Air Resources Board. However, it was amended in the Assembly to remove the mandate and merely authorize the Board to create a program. That amendment is not necessarily a setback because whether the program is mandated or merely authorized, it needs to be funded through the budget process. That’s a separate campaign that CalBike and our allies are fighting hard for, as the legislature will continue to debate more aspects of the budget this summer and into the fall.
AB 1238 (Ting), the Freedom to Walk Act, decriminalizes jaywalking. The Assembly endorsed it by a vote of 58 to 16. CalBike is cosponsoring this bill along with California Walks, and Los Angeles walks. The bill has broad support and little opposition. We hope that the Senate takes this historic opportunity to correct inequities in access to our streets and remove a pretext for biased policing. CalBike is leading this effort because our work for more bike-friendly communities requires friendly and safe streets where the automobile does not dominate. We are working toward a world where normal and safe behavior like crossing the street is not an illegal act that draws the unnecessary attention of law enforcement.
The Bicycle Safety Stop
AB 122 (Boerner Horvath), the Bicycle Safety Stop Bill, passed the Assembly on a 53 to 11 vote. The bill makes it legal for people on bikes to treat stop signs as yields. CalBike has tried to get this measure (known then as the Idaho stop) passed in previous years, but unfriendly legislators in powerful positions stopped it. The success (so far) of the Bicycle Safety Stop Bill this year, thanks to better committee leaders in the Assembly, is a reminder that elections matter.
CalBike’s Advocacy on Other Bills Is Effective, but We Didn’t Win Them All
CalBike supported two bills that will change land use to lead to more active transportation, and they both passed the Assembly.
- AB 1147 (Friedman) will reform transportation planning to emphasize active transportation. The bill is truly visionary, creating a roadmap for 15-minute cities and bicycle freeways. If it becomes law, AB 1147 could provide the foundation for transformation in communities around California.
- AB 1401 (Friedman) eliminates mandated parking minimums in new buildings near transit. While it has passed the Assembly, it has attracted powerful enemies, including NIMBY and affordable housing groups, even though it will make it cheaper to build housing in California.
The need to reduce car speeds
We also supported two bills that will help to control speeding. Speeding the primary factor that makes streets unsafe for children. Most of us have had a scary close call with a car whose driver was going way too fast. Unfortunately, only one of these bills made it out of the Assembly.
- AB 43 (Friedman, Ting, Chiu, and Quirk) seeks to reform the way Caltrans manages our public roadways. Significantly, it allows communities to set lower speed limits to keep streets safe without being hamstrung by the terrible 85% percentile rule, which requires cities to set the speed limit at the speed of the car going faster than 85 out of 100 car drivers.
- AB 550 (Chiu and Friedman) would have legalized speed cameras, but, unfortunately, it died in the Appropriations Committee without fanfare. Speed cameras make streets safer in two ways: by reducing speeding more consistently than occasional police stops can and by removing police from traffic stops that can turn lethal for Black and Latinx Californians. We hope to see it come back next year.
More work to be done to save bike sharing systems
One very bad bill would deal a fatal blow to the burgeoning shared bike and scooter systems across California. CalBike supports these systems as a critical complement to public transit. They should be funded by public transit agencies and made available to the public on the same terms and with the same fare media as the bus. Unfortunately, AB 371 will place onerous insurance requirements on bike- and scooter-share systems that would end this vital last-mile transportation option in California.
We’ll be working with our allies to remove the insurance requirement from this bill in the Senate and educate Senators about this measure’s harmful effects.
Check our Legislative Watch page for the latest.