California bicycle legislation 2015

This page tracks 2015 legislation in the California Assembly related to bicycles and other transportation issues.

Santa Cruz traffic

    Bills For (and Against) Bicycles

  • Mandatory helmets and high-viz apparel: SB 192 mandates helmets for riders of all ages, and high visibility apparel for night riding. See discussion here.
  • Bicycle Lights: Kansen Chu’s AB 28 to require flashing white tail lights on bicycles has already been relentlessly mocked. Update 2/11: Chu amended his bill so that it requires a flashing red light now, not white. At least he now has the color right. As written, this is still unacceptable. A requirement for a solid or flashing tail light may be acceptable, especially if the light can be used in place of the currently required red refelctor.
  • Golden Gate Bridge Toll: AB 40 by Phil Ting and Mark Levine to restrict sidewalk tolls on the Golden Gate Bridge has received plenty of media attention. The Golden Gate Bridge last year proposed (again) to toll cyclists crossing the bridge. AB 40 would prohibit the Bridge District from doing that.
  • Third lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge: Assembly Member Mark Levine hopes to speed work on a proposed third lane for the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge with AB 157 to relieve traffic congestion. His bill as currently written encourages opening sorely needed bike access here, too. Story in the Marin Independent Journal here: Assemblyman Levine pushes for third lane on Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.
  • Lane splitting: AB 51 on motorcycle lane-splitting would regulate the practice. The bill does not mention bicycles at all but may restrict the right of cyclists to similarly filter forward in heavy traffic. Motorcycle groups in California seem to universally oppose this bill; I suspect it will likely die in committee. 2/11 update: Our buddy Kansen Chu (who proposed white blinking lights for the rear of bicycles) added himself as a co-sponsor of this bill.
  • Low speed electric bicycles: California law governing the operation of electric bicycles is a mishmash of contradictory rules. AB 875 creates a new category of electric bike, the “low speed electric bicycle,” and exempt a low-speed electric bicycle from the prohibition of motorized bicycles on a bicycle path or trail, bikeway, bicycle lane, equestrian trail, or hiking or recreational trail. This rule is among the items on the California Bicycle Coalition 2015 legislative agenda.
  • Expanding helmet rules for skateboard parks: California skate park operators are required to ensure skaters at the park wear helmets, elbow pads, and knee pads. AB 1146 expands this requirement to “other wheeled recreational devices” including bicycles, scooters and wheelchairs. Which prompts the question: What if the wheelchair stunt rider has no knees to affix a knee pad to?
  • Greenway Development and Sustainment Act: Assembly Member Jimmy Gomez continues his work to protect the Los Angeles River basin with AB 1251, which authorizes those tax-exempt nonprofit organizations to acquire and hold a conservation easement if the organizations have as their primary purpose the development of a greenway.
  • Electric skateboard regulation: The state of California currently prohibits electric skateboards from all public roads and sidewalks. California AB-604 modifies the California vehicle code to legalize and regulate operation of electric skateboards in the Golden State. More info on AB 604 here.

    The California Bicycle Coalition endorses AB 157 and AB 40, and has reached out to Chu requesting amendments for AB 28.

    Public Transit Legislation

  • Employee shuttles at public bus stops: State law currently does not allow private vehicles — including privately operated employee shuttle services — to stop in red “no parking” zones designated as stops for public transit. AB 61 would allow transit agencies to permit private operators to use their spaces as shuttle stops.
  • Tahoe Ferry Funding: A portion of the California Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund goes to transit capital projects and programs that encourage mass transit ridership. State Senator Ted Gaines introduced SB 231, which would include “water-borne transit that serves as the key transit trunk line in a region” in transit projects that are eligible for funding from the California Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. He specifically has the proposed Lake Tahoe Passenger Ferry in mind, which would provide service between Tahoe City and South Lake Tahoe. In places like the San Francisco Bay Area, passenger ferries serve as an important way to help alleviate traffic congestion and provide a backup should bridges and tunnels fail due to natural and man-made disasters and incidents. Ferries can have significant air pollutant emissions, however, that outstrip even the single occupant motor vehicle. I’m not opposed to this bill, but I’m not for it either at this point.
  • Criminal penalties for fare evasion: Under California, citations for transit misconduct rules such as fare evasion are administrative penalties, similar to traffic tickets. AB 869 tacks on the possibility of an infraction or misdemeanor criminal penalty for those who don’t pay the administrative fine.
  • Common courtesy on public transportation: SB 413 refines the actions transit agencies can take against passengers who a “loud and unreasonable noise” on board the bus or train. “Failing to yield seating reserved for an elderly or disabled person” also becomes a citable offense.



    Highway Safety, Construction and Funding

  • Ignition interlock for convicted DUI drivers: SB 61 confuses me. The legislative counsel’s digest — the executive summary of the bill — claims the bill will introduce a requirement for an ignition interlock devices on automobiles of convicted drunk drivers after they’re allowed to drive again. Existing law, however, already provides for that. The only real change I see in this bill is the addition of a number of sunset provisions to several sections of this existing law. This looks like an attempt to clarify existing law after a DMV request, but it’s perhaps worth a closer look for those interested in keeping chemically impaired drivers off of the road.



  • HOV restriction in Los Angeles County: Many HOV lanes in southern California are 24 hour. This bugs Assembly Member Mike Gatto, who apparently drives solo a lot, so he introduced AB 210 to eliminate those 24 hour lanes on certain L.A. County highways and make then commute-time HOV only. Story here.
  • HOV lane stickers: SB 39 increases the numbers of stickers for low emission vehicles.
  • Transportation fund repayment: Over the past decade, the state raided numerous transportation funds — including the Public Transportation Account, the Bicycle Transportation Account, and the Pedestrian Safety Account — to help address budget shortfalls. AB 227 mandates repayment of these General Fund loans by December 31, 2018. This bill also deletes the portion of state funding law that redirects vehicle weight fees from the General Fund, making it available for the State Highway Account.
  • Extend CEQA exemption for minor projects. 2011 AB 890, which exempts certain relatively minor road projects from California Environmental Quality Act review, expires January 2016. AB 232 removes the sunset clause from this law. To be eligible for exemption, the project must include mitigations for “potential bicycle and pedestrian safety impacts.”
  • Highway 101 Congestion Relief: AB 378 is worth watching. I think Assembly Member Kevin Mullin of San Mateo wants to “improve” highway capacity on Highway 101 between San Jose and San Francisco if the headline on his press release is any indication.
  • Extend financial responsibility sunset: Did you know the financial responsibility law for drivers sunsets on January 1, 2016 for residents of Los Angeles and San Francisco Counties? SB 491 extends the sunset until 2020. This bill also slightly changes the wording of the law that defines Class IV Bikeways.



    Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Air Quality

  • Carbon tax exemption: Transportation fuel providers began paying the state carbon tax on January 1, 2015. Several bills, including SB 1, SB 5, and AB 23, seek to exempt transportation fuel from the California carbon tax.
  • Carbon tax expenditures: AB 156 sets aside a portion of the state carbon tax revenue for a technical assistance fund for disadvantaged communities to assist them in proposing specified projects. Bill sponsor Henry Perea of Fresno made my bad boy list last year as a shill for the oil industry, so it’s nice to see him speaking out for his constituency for a chance.
  • Extending the greenhouse gas emissions targets: Senator Fran Pavley’s SB 32 extends the current greenhouse gas emissions law out to 2050, with a targeted 80% reduction in greenhouse emissions, codifying then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Executive Order No. S-5-05.
  • No credits for rich people: Clean Vehicle Rebate program would be limited to vehicles selling for under $40,000 if SB 40 passes.

See also California Bicycle Coalition 2015 Legislative Agenda.


  1. I initially suspected a gut-and-amend placeholder, but they’re usually pretty easy to “spot” (har har). It’s mostly confusing to me because I’m not familiar with the history and technicalities of the current ignition lock-out law, since it’s not something I’ve ever had to think about.

  2. SB91 is NOT a spot bill. It is a roll out of a pilot program ending this year. Currently, Ignition Interlock devices are NOT mandatory for all who are convicted of DUI. SB61 will make IIDs mandatory for anyone convicted of a DUI in all Californian counties. IIDs are currently mandatory only in 4 counties; Tulare, Alameda, LA and Sacramento. These counties are part of a pilot program for mandatory IIDs (AB91 2010).

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