Could lawmakers revisit the Safe Passage for Bikes Act?

On Behalf of | Mar 22, 2024 | Bicycle Accidents |

California is home to hundreds of thousands of cyclists, including people who regularly bike on public roads. Lawmakers and urban planners have to consider the needs of cyclists when deciding on how to design new infrastructure or when proposing new laws.

Changes to existing statutes can sometimes lead to improved safety for cyclists. However, not every effort by lawmakers ends up successfully improving traffic rules. Despite lawmakers passing Assembly Bill 825 (the Safe Passage for Bikes Act) in 2023, the governor vetoed the bill and sent it back to the legislature without his signature.

Could similar laws be in the works for the next legislative session in California?

What the failed law could have changed

The Safe Passage for Bikes Act aimed to improve cyclist safety by changing rules about sidewalk use. In many areas, it is illegal for cyclists to ride on sidewalks. Instead, because bikes are vehicles, cyclists should ride in the street.

Ideally, cyclists can plan routes where they can occupy bike lanes. When there are no bike lanes present, they have to share the road with motor vehicles. If the governor had signed the Safe Passage for Bikes Act into law, cyclists on streets without bike lanes could potentially ride on the sidewalks. The law would have decriminalized riding a bicycle on the sidewalk, giving cyclists more options and reducing unnecessary arrests.

Unfortunately, the governor decided that safety considerations for pedestrians and others on sidewalks outweighed the needs of cyclists. His letter vetoing the Act outlined his objections and highlighted how the current administration has invested in improved safety infrastructure for cyclists.

Could 2024 see a similar proposal?

California state lawmakers frequently make small adjustments to rejected bills and then seek to convert them into state statutes when prior attempts at similar legislation have failed. For many state lawmakers, cyclist safety is a priority for them because it directly affects their constituents.

However, given the governor’s opposition to not the nuance of the bill but the very premise of the Act, lawmakers in 2024 may focus on other ways to improve traffic safety rather than changing the laws that apply to cyclists riding on the sidewalk. State lawmakers often have a hard time gathering enough support to pass a bill, let alone override a Governor’s veto on a bill that legislators previously approved.

Complying with the law can help people avoid dangerous collisions, so filing a personal injury lawsuit might be a reasonable reaction to a cycling crash. Given how cyclists often bear the brunt of the consequences in a collision between a motor vehicle and a bicycle, holding a driver accountable is often wise after a preventable cycling collision occurs.