It’s time for a California bicycle legislation update. There’s been some action on a handful of bills that might impact bicycling in California, and we’ve already seen a couple of gut-and-amend bills that added to the list of legislation I’m tracking.
- I’ve already mentioned the euphemistic amendment for the proposed bicycle tax.
- AB 2398 – Vulnerable Users Law: has seen no action since introduction. It currently sits in the Assembly Transportation Committee. This law would impose extra fines when a vulnerable user — defined as pedestrians, highway construction and maintenance workers, people on horseback, people “operating equipment other than a motor vehicle including, but not limited to, a bicycle, in-line skates, roller skates, scooter, or skateboard,” and people operating or using farm tractors — is injured due to the unsafe operation of a motor vehicle.
- AB 2055 — Bicycle pupil instruction: State law apparently authorizes school districts to only allow “any local law enforcement agency” to provide bicycle safety instruction to public school students. I think this means school districts in the city of San Jose have been breaking the law, because many of their bike safety programs are run by a city program called Street Smarts. In Santa Cruz, a local non-profit does bike safety education programs at the schools. AB 2055 would allow school districts to also invite “other public agencies that provide bicycle safety instruction” to provide bicycle safety education at school.
- AB 2707 — Extend allowable size of bus front racks on Los Angeles buses: State law says front-mounted bike racks on city buses cannot extend more than 36 inches from the front of the bus. This apparently limits rack selection to those with a capacity for two bicycles. Every year for the past couple of years we’ve seen legislation allowing exemptions for specific transit agencies. In 2013, it was Sacramento. Before that, exemptions were enacted for AC Transit and Gold Coast Transit. Now it’s LA County MTA’s turn. I think the state legislature should quit messing around and just extend the length to 40 inches statewide. AB 1684 provides essentially the same exception for North (San Diego) County Transit buses.
- AB 2389 extends the state Safe Routes to School program for another year.
- AB 2054 – Electric skateboards in bike lanes: I mentioned this one previously and speculated that it was a placeholder subject to further amendment. The author indeed introduced significant changes to this bill: AB 2054 would allow the use of motorized skateboards in bike lanes and on bike paths, as long as the motor produces less than 1000 watts (!). It’s currently in the Assembly Transportation Committee.
- AB 1922 – Greenway Development and Sustainment Act: The lifeless concrete channel featured in so many Los Angeles car chase movie scenes is the Los Angeles River. Efforts are underway by Los Angeles County, the city of Los Angeles, and the other cities the river passes through to create parks along the river and restore some of the natural habitat that existed before the Army Corps of Engineers paved it all over. AB 1922 will help enable some of those efforts and defines a greenway, in part, as designated for non-motorized transportation.
- AB 2653 – Transportation finance: This bill redirects “non-Article XIX” (referring to the state Constitution) funds from the Transportation Debt Service Fund and allocate these funds to the STIP (44%), SHOPP (12%), and cities and counties (44%). AB 2653 would also direct all of the 17 cent excise tax that was added to gasoline sales as part of the Gas Tax Swap to cities and counties for local street and road projects. These funds would be allocated based on the HUTA formula whereby 50% of the funds are allocated to cities on a per capita basis, and 50% is allocated to counties based on 75% on the number of registered vehicles and 25% on the number of county maintained road miles.
- SB 834 – Sustainable Environmental Protection Act: aka yet another attempt at CEQA reform.
The California Bicycle Coalition includes these and a number of other bills on their legislative watch list for 2014.
AB 2398 was recently amended to include driver license suspension or restriction and higher minimum financial penalty. http://legiscan.com/CA/text/AB2398/2013
The AB2398 license suspension is only if there is a prior conviction within three years. So lame. That means a driver can run over a pedestrian every three+ years and never get a suspension Fine is still only 220, <1/2 of a mere carpool violation which hurts nobody. Littering is 1000. This is just a slap in the face to vulnerable road users and serves only to perpetuate the culture that pedestrians don't matter.