Last Week, Assemblymember Phil Ting (D – San Francisco) introduced AB 694, a bill to recast California’s far-to-the-right law to clarify cyclists’ right to control a lane where necessary.
California Vehicle Code 21202 is the state’s “shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway” law. The law contains a list of exceptions which includes a “substandard lane width” clause, but the abridged vehicle code cheat sheet used by California law enforcement agencies does not contain these exceptions, and side-of-the road appeals to the actual law or to common sense (“There’s literally not enough passing room!”) are often met with a response of “Take it the judge.”
To help address some of the confusion involved with 21202, Ting introduced his first attempt to reword the far-right-law during the 2016 legislative session with AB 2509. Unfortunately, he had to table this earlier bill due to lobbying efforts from influential individuals in a certain state agency tasked with highway safety.
Dave Snyder from the California Bicycle Coalition and (I believe) Jim Baross from the California Association of Bicycle Organizations met with these individuals, worked on their concerns, and the result is the re-wording proposed in AB 694, which as of this writing completely removes the text “as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway” and replaces it with more standard language for slow-moving vehicles:
21202. (a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride in the right-hand lane or bicycle lane, if one is present, except under any of the following situations:
(1) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
(2) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
If the cyclist is riding in a lane that’s “wide enough for a vehicle and a bicycle to travel safely side by side,” then the cyclist must stay far enough right to allow faster traffic to pass, assuming no hazards. Another cool exception: the cyclist may legally move left into the lane “when approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.”
This bill validates the common “vehicular cycling” practice of “taking the lane,” which many A-to-B cyclists must practice on vast swaths of California roads where decent cycling infrastructure doesn’t exist.
I’ve seen concerns that the bike lane exceptions already provided for in CVC 21208 (California’s mandatory bike lane law) aren’t enumerated in this new proposal; this might be worth bringing up with Ting’s staff and with the Assembly Transportation Committee, which is where this bill is probably headed next after it passes muster with the Rules Committee.
Bipartisan love for Idaho Stop in California
Assemblymembers Jay Obernolte (R – Big Bear Lake) and Ting have introduced AB 1103, which will allow cyclists to treat stop signs as yields if it passes. Co-sponsors of the bill are Richard Bloom (D – Santa Monica), Rocky Chavez (R – Oceanside) and Kevin Kiley (R – Rocklin).
Personal claim to fame: Wikipedia says I invented the phrase “Idaho Stop” in 2008, though I can only claim credit for popularizing the phrase. I think I first heard “Idaho Stop” as such from long time California bike advocate Jim Stallman in 2007.
Bike share expansion for state employees
The California Department of General Services operates a bike share program for state employees working in the Sacramento area. California Senator Henry Stern (D – Malibu) wants to expand this program to state employees throughout California. Good luck.
Do you remember AB 417 that exempts bicycle plans from environmental review under California’s Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)? Do you remember that this exemption sunsets the beginning of next year? How time flies. Assemblymember Obernolte AB 1218 removes the sunset and extends that exemption indefinitely.
You might also remember AB 1581 from 2007, which mandates the use of traffic light actuators that can detect bicycles and motorcycles. This law also sunsets on January 1, 2018. State Senator Jean Fuller (R – Bakersfield) introduced SB 672 to extend this law indefinitely. Fuller’s bill also adds a provision for the state to reimburse local governments for the extra cost of actuators that can detect bicycles and motorcycles.
AB 1222 would include a mandate to add a section on distracted driving safety to the California Driving Manual.
Scott Weiner’s SB 760 codifies a Complete Streets policy as state law.
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My only concern with the Idaho stop is what I experienced for the last 6 months dog-sitting in Berkeley, near Ashby BART, loaded with out-of-towner students always in a rush to get to class. I would be in the middle of a cross walk and have some ass-clown blow right through coming within a few feet of me and my dog.
Newsflash – Pedestrians, kids, and dogs can behave ERRATICALLY, you can’t just assume they will see you and stop for you because you are on a bike going 20+ mph and don’t feel like stopping for them since they are not a car.
I know this one first-hand, having HIT a homeless man who shambled out from between two parked cars right in front of me. I was yelling for him to move, but to no avail.
I anticipate bike on pedestrian, and bike on bike, crashes to go up as a result of that change in the law. But, to be far, the most egregious idiots out there are already doing this illegally and nearly hitting people, which is why I am miffed. Maybe this will make it better somehow? I would feel better about it if it contained language about cyclist responsibility in the case of a crash with another vulnerable user.
Maybe Idaho stop law needs to add a ~10mph speed limit when entering the intersection, so people don’t cross at full speed.
I think Martin has the right idea here. This is what I currently do in under-traveled areas, I thoroughly scan the area to get my situational awareness up, then slow down even if I don’t see anyone, because you never know. I have seen cars pop in from out of nowhere and Idaho stop, and that could have been my head if I wasn’t more aware.
“I’ve seen concerns that the bike lane exceptions already provided for in CVC 21208 (California’s mandatory bike lane law) aren’t enumerated in this new proposal”
It’s pretty simple.
CVC 21002 – covers roadways in general, to be more specific, when riding on them slower than the “normal speed” of traffic of course.
CVC 21208 – cover roadways with bike lakes installed, which also cyclists are only required to use when traveling slower than the normal speed of traffic.
On the topic of “normal speed of traffic” it might be worth noting that law enforcement has been known to get that wrong too. See Andrew Woolley case.
The Idaho Stop Law does not give cyclists the right to just blow through an intersection at any speed. It means that the cyclist will treat the stop as a yield which means slow down check traffic and IF clear proceed. The cyclist still must yield to pedestrians and anything else that is in the intersection. Its called common sense people.
The “right turn is authorized” exception is part of the current law. The draft moves it from (a)(4) to (b)(2).
Isn’t slowing down implied by the “yield”?
“Maybe Idaho stop law needs to add a ~10mph speed limit when entering the intersection, so people don’t cross at full speed.”
Please read the proposal. It is all about entering an intersection with caution, and only proceeding when it is clear, and safe to do so. It is a *yield* after-all. Of course we all know that people (no matter what transportation they use) only follow the rules that they think apply to them – but this proposed rule certainly attempts to address your concern.
“wide enough for a vehicle and a bicycle to travel safely side by side”
Now that we have a 3′ passing law, maybe the ambiguous “safely” could be reworded to reference the ability for a motor vehicle to pass /legally/? (Since apparently 3′ is considered a minimum measure of “safe” passing distance).