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Several key transportation safety and equity bills will reportedly move forward after the Senate Transportation Hearing. The current bills that have already passed their house of origin are being heard by committees in the other house. All must be passed, held, or killed before the legislature goes on summer break, starting July 16.
The bills that were passed include:
AB 122 aims to make it legal for bicycle riders to treat stop signs as yield signs. When approaching a stop sign, a cyclist would be required to yield the right of way to any vehicle already in the intersection, but not have to come to a complete stop if no other traffic were present.
“At first we considered calling this the “Take Your Turn” bill,” Dave Snyder, director of the California Bicycle Coalition, reportedly told the committee. “But when we dug deeper, and discovered how it will improve safety, we changed the name to the ‘Safety Stop’ bill.”
Colloquially known as the Idaho Stop bill, several other states have also adopted some version of the law, and have gathered increasing evidence that allowing riders to slow down at an intersection with a stop sign and proceed through or stop, depending on circumstances, has led to fewer crashes.
Snyder, whose organization is a sponsor of AB 122, authored by Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath (D-Encinitas), reportedly added: “Everywhere a similar law has passed, there has been no evidence that crashes have increased, and there have been no complaints either. In fact, safety has increased.” In Delaware, the state saw a 23% decrease in bike crashes at intersections after passing its version of the law.
AB 122 has a lot of support, and calls reportedly came in from representatives from the cities of Encinitas, Sacramento, and Los Angeles, the Local Government Commission, Streets4All, and the NRDC to urge a yes vote .The bill passed 14-2, and now proceeds to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Speaking in support of AB 1238, which would decriminalize jaywalking, Jason Sarris shared his experience receiving a ticket for exercising safe walking behavior as an unhoused person. “I crossed carefully not because I was afraid of getting a ticket but because I didn’t want to get hit,” he reportedly told the committee.
However, an officer stopped him and cited him for jaywalking anyway, blocking traffic while he wrote it out. “He stopped me because I didn’t look like I belonged in the neighborhood. I had a backpack and my bike with me – I looked homeless, and that made me a target,” said Saris, adding that it’s not just unhoused folks but also people of color who tend to receive jaywalking tickets “as a form of harassment.”
Sarris also said that while jaywalking is a trivial offense, it has big consequences. The citation and fines built up a debt he couldn’t pay, and contributed to the suspension of his drivers’ license, making it difficult for him to find employment, he said. As of now, people can be fined up to $250 for jaywalking, even when there are no vehicles present.
Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), the bill’s author, explained that AB 1238 would not permit unsafe crossing when an immediate hazard is present. “If there is a vehicle approaching, an officer absolutely has the right to issue a ticket in that circumstance,” he reportedly said. “The bill will not change behavior, but it will change arbitrary enforcement.”
Ting reportedly accepted committee amendments that added a seven-year sunset clause and annual reporting requirements to track the efficacy of the law. It passed 9-4 and is headed to Senate Appropriations next.
Presenting his bill AB 917, Assemblymember Richard Bloom reportedly said that in the L.A. area, vehicles violate bus-only lanes and block buses “every four minutes, causing delays and safety problems for transit riders.” His bill would allow buses to be equipped with a camera that records the license plates of drivers parked in bus-only lanes or blocking bus stops.
“In the pilot phase in San Francisco, the city found there was a 20% reduction in delays, and very few repeat violations. Camera enforcement works,” he reportedly said. “This will provide riders with access to safe and rapid transit, and ensure transit can provide competitive service.”
Bloom accepted several amendments suggested by committee staff, including adding a reporting requirement and a requirement to come up with payment options for low-income people who are cited. The bill passed 15-3 and will now go to the Judiciary Committee.