Updates on State Bills New California Bike Rules and Laws for 2024

Editor’s note: This piece about new 2024 California bike rules and laws was originally published by Bike East Bay, and is reproduced here with their permission. Click here to read the article on their website.


AS OF JANUARY 1ST, 2024, SEVERAL NEW STATE LAWS & LOCAL RULES TOOK EFFECT, ENHANCING SAFETY AND ACCESS FOR PEOPLE BIKING AND WALKING. READ THROUGH THE DETAILS BELOW, AND SHARE THIS POST WITH FRIENDS!

 

Parking Restrictions for Crosswalk Visibility

illustration showing a driver's view of a crosswalk impeded by cars parked at the corners, and a second illustration of the same sight lines clear due to red curb parking prohibitions at the corners

This legislation called the “Daylighting Saves Lives Bill” (text here) now restricts drivers from parking within 20 feet (approx. one car length) ahead of most street corners or midblock crosswalks, or within 15 feet of a crosswalk where a curb extension into the roadway (aka a “bulbout”) is present. This applies even at driveways, and even if the curb is not painted red.

Parking restrictions near corners and crosswalks is often called “daylighting”, and these requirements have been in place in other states for many years. Removing parking and other visual obstructions enables road users to see one another better at these crossing points, and has been shown to improve traffic safety.

This new law still allows cities to install commercial loading zones within 20 feet of corners and crosswalks, by ordinance, or on-street bike parking may be installed within these zones. More or less than the default 20 feet of restricted space may also be identified by a city via red curb paint.

Jurisdictions may only issue warnings and not ticket for violations until the end of 2024. In the meantime we encourage cities to start proactively identifying these “no parking” areas via red paint to remove some of the guesswork for drivers, and to install on-street bike parking corrals or other features at corners to further prevent drivers from parking there.


Bike Access on BART Escalators

Photo of a sticker on a BART escalator. Text: "For Your Safety Yield to Others No Wheelchairs No Strollers Soft Shoe Warning! Pinch Hazard"

Thanks to some amazing advocacy from our own Rebecca Saltzman, with support from the rest of the BART board and staff, riders can now officially take their bike with them on most escalators throughout the system, instead of having to lug them up and down stairwells or into crowded elevators!

This allowance applies to all BART escalators, except for the narrow ones found at the 19th Street Oakland, Antioch, and Oakland Airport Connector stations. Carrying one’s bike up/down the stairs or via the elevator are also still options at all stations.

Complete info about BART’s bike rules is available here, and they have provided an explainer video with some helpful tips on how to safely tote your bike on an escalator.


Bikes Can Proceed on Walk Signals

photo of a red traffic signal light above a white walk signal light

Bike riders in California are now allowed to cross an intersection whenever the pedestrian walk signal phase is on, even if the traffic signal is red. This applies if a signal is programmed to provide a pedestrian “head start” walk light before cars get a green (also called a “pedestrian leading interval” or LPI), or a “scramble” phase where pedestrians get to cross in all directions at once with no cars (like in Oakland Chinatown).

In both of these cases bike riders now get the head start or scramble as well, though please still make sure to look for and yield to any pedestrians in the crosswalk or intersection while proceeding through.

This change potentially makes the installation of two-way cycletracks easier since bike riders will be able to use walk lights instead of having to install expensive, new traffic signal heads. We will also need to work with local jurisdictions to make sure that signals are programmed so that bike traffic can actuate these walk phases, so riders can consistently get the benefit of the head starts and scrambles.

One exception is for locations where a dedicated bike signal is provided, and in that case bike riders are required to follow that signal and not the walk signal.

This law (text here) was actually passed over a year ago but didn’t go into effect until now (see our new laws update post from 2023 here).


In-Unit Bicycle & E-Bike Storage for Apartments

Previously, state law allowed landlords to prohibit tenants from storing bicycles, e-bikes, scooters, or other personal micromobility devices within their unit. This has been an longstanding issue especially with regard to older developments have inadequate or no secure bike parking facilities, and for affordable housing developments where bikes and e-bikes have been banned from in-unit storage due to very conservative and unnecessary demands by insurers.

A new state law SB 712 (text here) now permits tenants to store and recharge up to one micromobility device (bike, e-bike, scooter, etc) per person, inside their apartment. For e-devices this still requires a battery that is UL certified (UL 2849 for e-bikes or UL-2272 for e-scooters) to account for fire safety, so make sure to check your devices to ensure they are in compliance. All devices must also be stored within the unit in compliance with applicable fire code.

An exception to the above allowance for in-unit storage is included, if the tenant is provided with an alternate “secure, long-term storage” facility. This means that the storage facility must be free to use and limited to residents of that development only, it must be located on the premises and be indoors or otherwise protected from rain, and it must have a minimum of one power outlet for every e-device intended to be stored at the facility.

If you have questions or concerns about the secure bike storage at your East Bay apartment please let us know.  We can help look into it to make sure the facility meets existing code requirements, and provide support to property management to work on improvements.


Parking Enforcement Camera Tickets for Bike Lane Blockages

This new law (text here) allows parking enforcement officials to write and mail tickets based on footage from cameras mounted on their vehicles, as opposed to exiting their vehicles to write paper tickets.

Many parking enforcement vehicles already have these cameras installed but previously they were only allowed for use of expired meter enforcement but not for bike lane blockages.

City personnel have experienced harassment by drivers when writing paper tickets, so this bill was partly intended to enable them to do their jobs while avoiding potential conflicts.


Speed Camera Enforcement

photo of a speed limit sign - text: "Speed limit 30 - photo enforced"

After several attempts across multiple years, a state bill (text here) was passed and signed by the Governor to allow a pilot program for several cities around California to try out the use of automated, camera-based speed enforcement on city streets and study the results.

Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose are the three Bay Area cities included in the pilot program, though coordination is just starting so it will likely be a while before any cameras are up and running.

Last year we provided an explainer post (available here) about what the bill does and doesn’t do, and we raised some concerns about potential impacts from implementation in Oakland.

Now that the law was passed we remain committed to identifying funding for this program which doesn’t detract from Oakland’s capacity to deliver proven infrastructure safety upgrades like protected bikeways and traffic calming. We are also committed to advocating for and participating in an advisory committee to help oversee the pilot program and ensure that implementation is as equitable as possible.


State “Bike Czar” Position

This one we’re not quite sure what to make of this one yet, but another law that passed last year (text here) establishes a new Chief Advisor on Bicycling and Active Transportation (aka “Bike Czar”) at the state level, to be appointed by the Caltrans Director. This person will be tasked with serving as “the department’s primary advisor on all issues related to bicycle transportation, safety, and infrastructure.”

We will have to wait and see what this means, but after some unfortunate news about Caltrans last year they seem to need some help getting back on the right track. There are a few local luminaries we think would be great for the job, so stay tuned!


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