California: Bill to require rear-facing flashing white lights for bikes

Newly minted Assembly Member Kansen Chu, who represents a big chunk of Alameda and Santa Clara Counties in the San Francisco Bay Area, introduced a bill that would mandate rear-facing flashing white lights for bicycles operated at night. Yes, really. Alternatively, the cyclists may wear reflective gear in place of the light.


Christmas lights: Drive Side

Under California law, cyclists are required to have “a red reflector on the rear … visible from a distance of 500 feet” when riding a bicycle in darkness. Chu’s Assembly Bill 28, which he introduced on the day he was sworn into office on December 1, will change the red reflector requirement to a “white flashing light.

Picard Facepalm

Let’s hope this is a gut-and-amend bill. Otherwise, let’s hope the (recently decimated) legislative analyst office will enumerate all of the reasons this bill is a horrible idea. To summarize: white goes on the front of the bike, red goes on the back. The jury is still out on the safety of flashing lights, but they possibly increase danger and are distracting for everybody involved. If you doubt this, Mr. Chu, please ask the California Highway Patrol why they don’t use flashing lights when they’re on the side of the road for traffic stops.

Until his election to state office, Chu represented the city of San Jose District 4 on the City Council, encompassing Berryessa, Alviso, North San José, and North Valley areas. Now that his influence has expanded to the state level, it’s time to spend quality time with our new Assembly Member to educate this guy on bicycle safety. He very clearly has very little knowledge in this area.

This bill will likely go to the Transportation Committee. I trust the committee members there will see the foolishness behind AB-28 and quietly let it die. If you live the 25th Assembly District, please feel free to let your elected representative know what you think of AB-28.

Tip of my shiny, reflective safety hat to Eric of the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition.

13 Comments

  • December 9, 2014 - 2:22 pm | Permalink

    I can see cyclists using head lights as tail lights and blinding EVERYONE.

  • Anonymous
    December 9, 2014 - 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Legislative

  • Anonymous
    December 9, 2014 - 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Whoops. The Legislative Analyst’s Office was not recently decimated. Perhaps you are thinking of the senate office of Research or the Senate Floor Analysis. They were decimated. This bill will die.

  • December 9, 2014 - 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Oh yeah, you’re right — it was Senate staffers who lost their jobs.

    And I agree, this bill won’t get past committee.

  • Pete
    December 9, 2014 - 8:48 pm | Permalink

    And this issue is important why? Because all of the responsible cyclists already spend lots of time, money, and effort shopping for the most efficient and effective lighting for our bikes and all of the people who ride around dark at night will suddenly be coerced into compliance? I’m glad we pay these people salaries, pension, and health benefits so they can think for us.

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  • Anonymous
    February 12, 2015 - 2:06 pm | Permalink

    So nobody thought it ws just a typo?

    Smart cyclists don’t need laws… but ignorants that ride bikes do.

    With the trend to wear all black, with no brakes, and a puny flashlight in your hand, while riding in the road at night… it is no wonder more aren’t run down.

    Sad to “need” another law written, but it won’t change my rig or kit…
    I love dressing like a neon icon, getting creative with my UFO lighting defense and doing anything I can to set a good example and keep from wheeling out of a chair (ironic since I am challenged, and ride recumbents as it is!)

    Visability and hemets are not a bad idea… if only to take away the lame excuse of careless or inept motorists… “I didn’t see them”… just which part of safety orange, screaming lime, and blinking lights did you miss?

  • Anonymous
    February 12, 2015 - 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Hemet is a place in SoCal… heLmet is what I wear…
    when in doubt… expect the ridicules to be a typo.

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