The California legislative session is shaping up to be a busy one, with a large number of new bills affecting active transportation plus a few two-year bills introduced last year and still moving through. We will also continue to advocate for more funding for active transportation in the budget process.
Here are the bills CalBike is supporting, opposing, and keeping an eye on in 2024.
If you were following CalBike’s work in 2019, you might remember the Complete Streets Bill. We won a hard-fought victory that year, passing the bill in the legislature, only to see it vetoed by the governor. Complete Streets is back for 2024 and at the top of our list of four top-priority bills.
2024 Complete Streets Bill
SB 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 new version strengthens the measure by adding the needs of transit to the mix, paving the way for more bus-only state highway lanes, as well as transit improvements on local streets. We must show the governor he was wrong to trust Caltrans to implement its own policies since the 2019 veto, and we need to hold Caltrans accountable to make roads safer for all. We hope you’ll join our Complete Streets Campaign.
Safe Vehicles Save Lives Bill
SB 961 is part of Senator Wiener’s safer streets package, along with the Complete Streets Bill. This bill would require two measures to make vehicles less lethal to people bicycling and walking. Truck side guards are metal pieces installed between the wheels of semis and other large trucks. Side guards protect people riding bikes or walking from being pulled under the rear wheels of a truck. This is a too-common scenario, where a truck hits and injures someone but the fatal injuries occur when the truck rolls over the fallen person with its rear wheels. Side guards are a commonsense safety measure advocates have been fighting for at the federal and state levels, so California adopting it could be a big step toward a nationwide requirement. Trucking companies oppose the measure, placing the financial cost above the cost of lives lost.
The second part of this bill is a requirement for speed governors or speed limiters. Starting with 2027 models, passenger cars sold in California would be required to limit speed to no more than 10 mph above the posted speed limit. It’s an easy addition to modern cars, which are already outfitted with sophisticated sensors and programming. Speed is the biggest factor in fatalities of pedestrians and bike riders, with a huge difference in potential for serious injury and death between 20 and 30 mph, so this provision will save lives and move our state closer to its Vision Zero goals.
Quicker and Better Bikeways Bill
AB 2290 by Assemblymember Laura Friedman is another omnibus bike bill. Like Friedman’s OmniBike Bill in 2022, which made four changes to the vehicle code to make streets safer for biking, this measure has three provisions that will lead to — you guessed it — quicker and better bikeways.
The bill will limit state funding for Class III bikeways (or bike routes) to streets with speed limits under 20 mph. These are the least safe bicycle infrastructure, which typically include only sharrows marking a lane shared by car drivers and people on bikes. They provide no protection for bike riders and should be phased out for most uses.
Next, the Quicker and Better Bikeways Bill would 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 SB 1. Currently, agencies have an out if there’s a parallel facility nearby. AB 2290 requires bikeways included in bike plans to be added during these repairs.
The bill’s final provision creates a quick-build pilot at Caltrans. Currently, the agency doesn’t allow quick-build techniques, which can add safety elements for people bicycling and walking in months rather than years. We need quick-build upgrades to make dangerous roadways safer before more lives are lost. Quick-build is also essential for California to build out its bike networks and make bicycling an appealing and safe alternative to driving in time to avert climate disaster.
No Freeway Expansions for Freight
California needs fewer freeways, not more. But Caltrans often justifies adding lanes to accommodate freight traffic, even though that inevitably leads to induced demand, more traffic, more congestion, more pollution, and more greenhouse gases, particularly in marginalized Black and Brown communities. Assemblymember Mia Bonta’s AB 2535, sponsored by the Charge Ahead California coalition, limits highway expansions for freight traffic, a critical step toward reducing our freeway dependence.
A license to discriminate
Assemblymember Tasha Boerner has authored a number of bike-friendly bills, including sponsoring the Bicycle Safety Stop Bill and pushing for the budget to launch California’s E-Bike Incentives Project. But we can’t support her most recent measure, AB 2234, the E-Bike Licensing Bill, which prohibits youth younger than 12 from riding an electric bicycle and requires all riders to carry either a driver’s license or state-issued ID with a waiver showing they completed a CHP safety course.
The bill is a response to safety concerns about e-bikes, but it does nothing to make people riding e-bikes safer while increasing the chances of harassment, particularly for Black and Brown bike riders who are already disproportionately stopped by the police. It creates an onerous requirement that will discourage people from riding bikes at a time when we should be encouraging a switch to active transportation. The bill would require police to judge the age of a rider and whether they are on a classic bike or an e-bike, both distinctions that can be hard to make. CalBike will do all we can to stop this misguided measure.
The Active Transportation Slate
CalBike is supporting an additional slate of 12 active transportation bills.
- AB 6, Friedman, Regional Prioritization for Clean Transportation: This measure requires regional transportation agencies to prioritize and fund transportation projects that significantly contribute toward regional and state climate goals.
- AB 7, Friedman: Project Selection Process: A bill that requires state transportation agencies to incorporate environmental and equity principles into their project selection process.
- AB 73, Boerner/Friedman, Bicycle Safety Stop: The campaign to legalize stop-as-yield for bike riders aged 18 and older continues.
- AB 833, Rendon, Neighborhood Unification Bill: This bill requires Caltrans to prepare a plan for adding caps to freeway segments to reunite disadvantaged, underrepresented urban communities.
- AB 2086, Schiavo, Caltrans Accountability and Transparency Bill: This bill will develop guidelines for Caltrans to determine whether the use of the funding made available is advancing the Core Four priorities of safety, equity, climate action, and economic prosperity established by CalSTA. It will also create a public online dashboard to display annual project investments, bringing much-needed public oversight to Caltrans projects.
- AB 2259, Boerner, California Bike Smart Safety Handbook: This bill requires the DMV to create a bicycle safety handbook that includes information on, among other things, existing laws regulating bicycles and e-bikes. It’s a small step forward for safety.
- AB 2583, Berman, Lowering Speed in School Zones: This bill would establish a default speed limit of 15 miles per hour in school zones during certain hours. It’s a vital measure that will protect children, who are among the most vulnerable to traffic violence.
- AB 2669, Ting, No Bridge Tolls for People Walking and Biking: This bill ensures 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.
- AB 2744, McCarty: Bike Lane Protection Act: This bill prohibits the addition of a right-turn lane within 20 feet of a marked or unmarked crosswalk where there is not already a dedicated and marked right-turn or travel lane. Additionally, it would only allow the right turn of a car if the right turn is from an exclusive right-turn lane. It would also prohibit parking in Class II or IV bikeways (parking is already illegal on Class I separated bike paths).
- SB 689, Blakespear, Bike Lanes in Coastal Areas: This bill would make it easier to convert an existing motorized vehicle travel lane into a dedicated bicycle lane near the coast, ending requirements for a traffic study to process a coastal development permit or an amendment to a local coastal program.
- SB 1216, Blakespear: Prohibiting Class III Bikeways: This bill would prohibit public agencies and the ATP from installing a Class III bikeway (sharrows) on a street that has a posted speed limit greater than 30 miles per hour. It conflicts with some provisions of the Quicker and Better Bikeways Bill, and we expect the authors will work out the issue as both bills are revised.
- SB 1271, Min: E-Bike Battery Standards: This bill sets minimum safety standards for batteries on all e-bikes sold, rented, or leased in California. It’s an excellent measure for preventing battery fires, which are most often caused by substandard manufacturing, and bringing some clarity to the growing e-bike market.
CalBike’s legislation watchlist
The deadline to introduce legislation was February 16, but many bills aren’t fully formed when they’re introduced. We’re watching 13 bills that may evolve into measures to add to our Active Transportation Slate or to oppose, depending on revisions in the legislative process. We’ll add more information about these bills as their trajectories become clearer, and we might add more bills to our watch, support, or oppose lists as their language evolves.
Stay up to date on bike-friendly legislation on CalBike’s Legislative Watch page.
|Flora: E-Scooter Classification
|Dixon: Banning Bikes on Boardwalks
|Dixon: E-Bike Modifications
|Connolly: E-Bike Restrictions
|Villapudua: Vehicle Weight Limits
|Aguiar-Curry: Autonomous Vehicle Safety
|Friedman: Caltrans Trail Access
|Haney: Autonomous Vehicle Safety
|Bradford: Stop Pretextual Policing
|Caballero: VMT Study
|Wiener: San Francisco Bay Area Local Revenue Measure
|Wahab: San Francisco Bay Area Public Transportation
|Seyarto: CEQA Exemption for Road and Safety Improvements