California Legislation

SB 375 Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act: Enacted in 2008, California Senate Bill 375 aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by providing financial and environmental review incentives to reduce sprawl and promote development patterns that give people transportation options so they can drive less. 

SB 99 Active Transportation Program: In 2013, Senate Bill 99 established a state Active Transportation Program to fund pedestrian, bicycle, and Safe Routes to School projects with federal Transportation Alternatives, State Highway Account, and other federal funds.  The ATP will be the primary source for federal and state Safe Routes to School grants in California starting in 2014. 

SB 672 Amendment of Section 21450.5 of the Vehicle Code, relating to Traffic-actuated Signals: Motorcycles and BicyclesIn October, 2017, SB 672 was passed to extend indefinitely the requirement for traffic-actuated signals that display one or more of its indications in response to the presence of traffic, so as to be able to detect bicycle and motorcycle traffic on the roadway. The bill also provides a provision for local agencies and school districts to be reimbursed by the state for certain costs related to the traffic-actuated signals.

SB 760 Bikeways: Design GuidesIn January, 2018 SB 760 was passed to prioritize the creation of "complete streets" including safer sidewalks, bikeways, and crosswalks. It also provides new funding and additional policies to assist Caltrans in implementing goals in the Strategic Management Plan to make streets safer and more accessible for all users, and to accommodate all transportation modes, including walking, biking, and public transit.

AB 321 15 MPH School Speed LimitOn January 1, 2008, a new law took effect that will help bring down traffic speeds in school zones. This law, authored by Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara), enables local government to extend school zones to 1000 feet and reduce the speed limit within 500 feet of a school site to 15 mph at schools that are located in residential areas, or on highways with a speed limit of 30 mph or less. At 15 mph, most pedestrians will survive a crash, often sustaining only minor injuries. Yet minor increases in impact speed have a profound effect on crash severity. At 20 mph, most pedestrian crashes result in serious injury, and almost half are fatal. At 40 mph, 90% of crashes are fatal. Reducing traffic speeds will enable more children to walk or bike to school safely.

This law is voluntary. In order to benefit from it, parents and school administrators need to go to their city councils, or county boards of supervisors, if living outside city limits, and ask them to enact this law at qualifying schools. The following cities/counties/schools have adopted AB 321: Berkeley, San Francisco, Los Angeles, City of Goleta, Santa Barbara County, Taylor School and Alvin School in Santa Maria, Lompoc, Buena Park and Casmalia.

AB 1358 The Complete Streets ActThe 2008 CA law AB1358 (Complete Streets Act) took effect on January 1, 2011, requiring all city and county General Plan updates to include a policy on complete streets as part of the circulation element, embedding the planning, designing, and building of multimodal transportation networks into the larger planning framework. These networks should allow for all users to effectively travel by motor vehicle, foot, bicycle, and transit to reach key destinations within their community and the larger region. The State Office of Planning and Research issued the guidance to cities and counties for implementation. Complete Streets policies are viewed as a key element for achieving Safe Routes to School goals, as children are one of our most vulnerable roadway users, and there will never be enough stand-alone Safe Routes to School funding to fix all of the state’s safety problems.

AB 516 Amendment of Safe Routes to School project selection criteriaIn 2011, AB 516 amended the Safe Routes to School program by revising the process of evaluating project applications to mandate use of a specified public participation process, that must identify community priorities, ensure those priorities are reflected in the proposal, and secure support for the proposal by relevant community stakeholders. The bill also added the benefit of a proposal to a low-income school as a factor in the selection process.  A low-income school is defined as a school where at least 75 percent of students are eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program.

AB 1371 Vehicles: bicycles: passing distance: This bill, passed in September 2013, enacted the Three Feet for Safety Act, which requires the driver of a motor vehicle overtaking and passing a bicycle that is proceeding in the same direction on a highway to pass at a distance of no less than 3 feet between any part of the motor vehicle and any part of the bicycle or its operator. This new law is meant to reduce car-bicycle crashes.

AB 2398 Vehicles: pedestrians and bicyclists: This bill, referred to as a "vulnerable road user law" was passed in August, 2014. It raises the fines for drivers that injure vulnerable road users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and people using wheelchairs. 

AB 1218 California Environmental Quality Act: exemption: bicycle transportation plansThis bill, approved in July, 2017, amends Sections 21080.20 and 21080.20.5 of the Public Resources Code that relate to environmental quality. AB 1218 extends the sunset on the exemption from January 1, 2018, to January 1, 2021 for exemptions to CEQA related to bicycle transportation plans and projects that consists of the restriping of streets and highways for bicycle lanes in urbanized areas.