The start of 2023 brought a few changes in state law that affect California bicyclists – with more to follow. We’ve previously discussed the change in the law that requires a vehicle to move over a lane if there’s room to do so before passing a bike, just as they would when passing another vehicle.
The OmniBike Bill, as it’s called, details several other changes that bicycling advocates hope will improve safety and provide a little more freedom for those who ride traditional as well as electric bikes (e-bikes). Let’s take a look at those.
Limiting the ability of localities to prohibit e-bikes
The law limits the authority of local governments to ban e-bikes on bicycle paths, trails and lanes. However, local governments can still choose to prohibit them on hiking and equestrian paths.
Cyclists can’t be stopped to check their bicycle licenses.
Although there are bicycle license and registration laws on the books in various areas of the state, few people are aware of them, and they’re rarely enforced. However, just as with the jaywalking law, which was amended starting this year, there have been complaints that they’re too often used by some law enforcement officers to stop and harass people of color and young people. This law has ended these licensing and registration requirements.
Crossing on a “walk” signal
Beginning in 2024, bicyclists will be able to cross an intersection whenever there’s a “walk” signal. Currently, they can only do so legally when the light is green. The “walk” signal goes on prior to the green light that gives vehicles the right to go — giving pedestrians a head start in getting across the intersection before the light turns red. The change in the law will give cyclists that same added time.
As California continues to become a more bicycle-friendly state (particularly in cities like Los Angeles), the laws will likely continue to change. However, that won’t mean the end of drivers who behave carelessly or even aggressively around cyclists. Those who have suffered injuries as the result of an at-fault driver (or another cyclist) will still need to seek legal guidance to help ensure that they get the compensation to which they’re entitled.