Last year was an excellent year for bike-friendly legislation in California, but 2023 is getting off to an even more exciting start, with a huge slate of bills that will make our streets safer for all Californians, regardless of their income level, race or ethnic background, or neighborhood. And we’re excited to have strong legislation to support our Invest/Divest Campaign.
Here’s a first look at the bills CalBike is supporting in 2023.
CalBike’s priority legislation
In 2023, there are even more great active transportation bills in the pipeline. We’ve broken them into tiers. The five bills below are CalBike’s must-pass legislation for 2023.
Build Community, Not Freeways
AB 7 (Friedman) California spends too much of its transportation budget on polluting, neighborhood-destroying freeway expansion projects. This bill eliminates single-occupancy vehicle freeway capacity projects. It’s a critical step toward divesting from climate-killing freeway building. California should use that money instead for green transportation infrastructure, including complete streets, separated bikeways, and better public transit.
Riding a Bike Is Not a Crime Slate
AB 825 (Bryan): Allows bicycle riding on a sidewalk adjacent to a street that does not include a Class I, Class II, or Class IV bikeway.
AB 93 (Bryan): Prohibits police officers from requesting consent to conduct a search if the officer does not suspect criminal activity.
SB 50 (Bradford): Prohibits police officers from stopping or detaining a pedestrian or bike rider for a low-level infraction.
AB 825 protects bike riders from traffic violence, allowing people on bikes to ride on sidewalks in areas where municipalities fail to provide safe bike facilities. Too often, police stops of people on bikes end in harassment or even violence, especially if the bike rider is Black or Latino. As an LA Times investigation showed last year, these stops do nothing to keep our communities safer, but they make it more dangerous for BIPOC folk to get around by bike. AB 93 and SB 50 prohibit police from stopping and searching a bike rider for minor infractions like riding without a light and allow California cities to move traffic enforcement from armed officers to the Department of Transportation or other street safety agencies. Taken together, this bicycle safety slate goes a long way toward creating the safe and equitable streets California needs, divesting from police and traffic violence and investing in policies that truly make our communities safe.
Two bills in our exciting Active Transportation Slate for 2023 also decriminalize bike riding and transit, making active transportation more accessible, especially for disadvantaged communities. AB 819 decriminalizes transit fare evasion, and AB 1266 would eliminate bench warrants for minor traffic infractions, including tickets to people on bikes, and keep them from escalating.
The Equity-First Transportation Funding Act
AB 1525 (Bonta) Historically, the majority of transportation dollars have gone to keep streets in wealthier areas in good repair, while investments in disadvantaged communities were more likely to be freeways that fractured neighborhoods and polluted the air. Disinvestment has made low-income communities more dangerous for people who bike, walk, or take public transit, cutting people off from economic opportunities because of a lack of access to transportation. AB 1525 seeks to right this injustice by requiring that 60% of California’s transportation dollars go to projects in disadvantaged communities, investing in transportation justice.
2023 Active Transportation Slate
Last year, we supported a historic Active Transportation Slate, which saw 15 bills signed into law, including landmark legislation like the Freedom to Walk Act. In addition to our five high-priority bills, this year’s active transportation slate contains 14 excellent measures that we’ll be working to pass into law.
AB 6 (Friedman): Regional Prioritization for Clean Transportation
We applaud Assemblymember Friedman for taking another pass at this crucial measure, which passed the legislature only to be vetoed by the governor in 2022. It requires regional transportation agencies to prioritize and fund projects that significantly contribute to regional and state climate goals, divesting from projects that contribute to GHG emissions and investing in transportation alternatives.
AB 73 (Boerner Horvath): Bike, Yield, Succeed
After two years of senseless rejections at the governor’s desk for a commonsense measure allowing people on bikes to treat stop signs as yields, this bill would establish a pilot program to test it in several cities. It’s a good step toward full legalization, though the safety of this law has been tested in the many other states that already allow the bicycle safety stop.
AB 413 (Lee): Daylighting to Save Lives
Too many people walking and biking are being killed on our streets, and intersections are one of the most dangerous spots. This bill will create greater visibility and reduce lethal collisions by prohibiting stopping, standing, or parking a vehicle within 20 feet of any unmarked or marked crosswalk.
AB 819 (Bryan): Decriminalize Transit Fare Evasion
In a perfect world, public transit would be fully publicly funded, and no one would have to pay to ride. Until we get there, this bill to decriminalize fare evasion by removing it as a misdemeanor classification is an excellent step in the right direction.
AB 1188 (Boerner Horvath): California Bike Smart Safety Handbook
What if a bicycle handbook with information on safe riding was available for free at the DMV and other public offices in California? Wouldn’t that be cool? This bill would make it happen.
AB 1266 (Kalra): No More Warrants for Infractions
When someone doesn’t appear for a traffic infraction, including bicyclists and pedestrians who get tickets, a judge can issue a bench warrant. If that person is later stopped (perhaps due to pretextual policing because of the color of their skin), they will have a warrant for their arrest and could be taken to jail. This measure eliminates bench warrants for minor traffic infractions, thereby eliminating a pipeline that has often kept people struggling to get by stuck in a cycle of jail time and poverty.
SB 695 (Gonzalez): Make Caltrans Freeway Data Public
One of the challenges transportation advocates face as we work to invest more in active transportation and divest from destructive freeway boondoggles is that it’s hard to pin down what money goes where in California’s complex transportation budget. This measure will help us re-route funding by providing information, requiring Caltrans to prepare and make available information and data about activities on the state highway system on a public data portal each year.
The active transportation slate also includes:
- AB 251 (Ward): Deadly Oversized Cars
- AB 361 (Ward): Cars Blocking Bike Lanes
- AB 610 (Holden): Free Transit for Youth Pilot
- AB 645 (Friedman): Automated Speed Enforcement Pilot
- AB 761 (Friedman): Public Transit Transformation Task Force
- AB 981 (Friedman): Highway Pilot Projects to Reduce Emissions
- SB 712 (Portantino): Tenancy & Micromobility
We’re also watching a number of bills that are still being written, including one or two we might oppose. Check our Legislative Watch page for a list of all the bills on CalBike’s radar this year, and watch your inbox for opportunities to join our campaigns to pass essential active transportation legislation.