California bill amended to remove bicycle knowledge requirement from license test

Quick quiz: Who remembers California Assembly Bill 840 introduced by Tom Ammaniano for the 2013 legislative session. Anybody? Anybody?

This is the bill that would have required questions on bicycling, including questions about “bicycle markings, bicycle lanes, and bicycles in travel lanes” on California’s driver license test. Pretty cool, huh?

California Driver Handbook 2010 cover

AB 840 was referred to the Assembly Transportation Committee where, unfortunately, every bit of language mentioning bicycles was completely stripped from the bill. It’s been replaced with a “a statement requiring the applicant to acknowledge that he or she knows of the dangers of distracted driving.” That’s not horrible, but leaving the bicycle rules requirements would have been better.

According to the bill history information, Tom Ammaniano, who introduced AB 840 in the first place, authored the amendments.

Other bike bills amended

Of the other bicycle-related legislation in California’s legislative session, we see minor changes to improve the language in three other bills: Phil Ting’s AB 1193 to allow designs for bicycle facilities that are not in California’s design manual or MUTCD; Bloom’s AB 1002; and Bocanegra’s AB 1179, to consider the impact on school enrollment and siting in sustainable communities planning. Unlike the radical change we see in AB 840, the actual purpose of those bills doesn’t seem changed.

H/T to Merc-News reporters Mike Rosenberg on Twitter.


  1. Since the point of the bill was to add the bicycle knowledge test, the amended bill is just change for the sake of change, useless waste of tax money to pay for a little modified wording on DMV forms and pubs. So, I wonder why Ammiano backed out?

  2. Speculation is that he learned that his bill as originally written had no chance of getting through the transportation committee, so he took the opportunity to re-write it into something the members of the Assembly transpo committee could get on board with.

    Right now, DMV policy is to include one or two bike questions on the 20 question drivers license exam, but that’s just agency policy, not state law.

  3. The initial wording of the bill was “spot language.” Sometimes, in the interest of getting a bill before committee as quickly as possible, assembly persons will file a bill, slating it for hearing, before the exact language has been hammered out. In that case, they get an intern to type up some dummy text—a placeholder that amounts to nothing.

    I know this because I wrote a post about the bill myself when it was first “introduced.” ( Later that morning, Ammiano’s press guy send me an email informing me (very politely, I should add) that the piece of legislation I had based my entire article around was the figment of an office assistant’s imagination.

    So no, Ammaniano isn’t backpedaling on this. A law requiring drivers license exam takers to know anything about bicyclists was never a consideration.

    That all said, the fact that there is no such requirement is still pretty shocking to me. Kind of explains a lot…

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