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Progress Report: Bike Bills in the California Legislature

California State Seal mosaic

Before California legislators adjourn the 2023 session in September, cyclists may see the passage of new laws that will affect their commutes and access to the road. 

In the past, high-profile bills, such as the stop-to-yield bill that garnered wide support, have been denied only by the governor who has veto power. This year, that may not be the case, with at least one bike bill pulled from the floor already to accommodate a package of cyclist safety bills at a later date. 

Some bills are specific to cyclists, while others affect them through infrastructure and equity measures. AB 93, for example, was a high priority for CalBike, an advocacy group for cyclists in California. The bill, which has already been voted down, would have prohibited police officers from asking for consent to search a person or their vehicle without an evidence-based legal justification.

CalBike included the bill in its “Riding a Bike is Not a Crime” slate. (The good news is that another similar bill, SB 50, was introduced in the Senate.)

The following bills are some of the most important to watch as the last few weeks of the session play out. 

AB-825 | Bicycles on sidewalks 

This bill, which so far looks on track to become law, forbids local governments throughout the state from banning cycling on sidewalks that are adjacent to a highway that does not have a bike lane. While some research has shown that sidewalks can be dangerous for cyclists, Streets for All, a proponent of the bill, argues “without safe bicycle infrastructure, cyclists should be able to use their best judgment about where they should ride for their own safety and the safety of those around them.”

The bill also sets a speed limit for cyclists on a sidewalk at 10 miles per hour. 

AB-73 | Required stops for bicycles

A California legislator halted the progress of a bill that almost a dozen other states have approved, allowing cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs at an all-way stop intersection on roads with two or fewer lanes. 

“While AB 73 had broad bipartisan support within the California Legislature, I made the difficult decision to hold it as a two-year bill in order to work in tandem with stakeholders to craft a robust and comprehensive bike and e-bike safety bill package next year,” bill author Tasha Boernor said in a statement in July. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom has twice vetoed previous versions of the bill, despite the measure passing both chambers of the legislature.

AB-530 | Electric bicycle license 

Boernor is sponsoring another bill in the legislature that, if passed, would ban children younger than 12 years of age from operating an e-bike of any kind and also create a license program that would require a written test and photo ID for people without a driver’s license. 

Currently, children younger than 16 are not permitted to ride class 3 e-bikes, which can reach speeds of about 28 miles per hour. 

Local leaders in Encinitas, in Boernor’s district, declared an emergency over e-bike crashes in June, following the death of a 15-year-old boy. In a statement about the bill, Boernor said the bill is necessary to increase safety. 

“Not every parent is a bike rider that can ensure our youth receive proper training,” she said. “This takes a real commitment from our communities and our state. It will be a long process, and AB 530 is a critical starting point that we’ll continue to work to develop through meetings with stakeholders this fall.”

AB-361 | Parking in bike lanes

Cars parking in bike lanes can be a real pain, and also a hazard to cyclists and other road users. AB-361 would allow local governments to install automated forward facing parking control devices on city-owned parking enforcement vehicles for the purpose of recording violations occurring in bicycle lanes.