legislation update

There are several bills before the California Legislature that would affect bicycling, walking, and livability. For additional information, see Richard Masoner’s Cyclelicious blog (search for “legislation”) and the California Bicycle Coalition’s 2013 Legislative Agenda page.

AB-184: Statute of limitations: lengthens statue of limitation for hit and run, probably a good bill

AB-206: Vehicles: length limitations: buses: bicycle transportation devices (SacRT): amended to add an onerous process for approval, but probably still a good bill

AB-417: Environmental quality: California Environmental Quality Act: bicycle transportation plan: no changes so far, a good bill

AB-666: Automated traffic enforcement systems: violations: red light cameras, it restarts the program, but with civil rather than criminal penalties, supported by CaliforniaWALKS and California Bicycle Coalition; hearing in Assembly Judiciary 04/23/13

AB-738 Public entity liability: bicycles: no changes so far, still a bad bill; hearing in Assembly Judiciary 04/23/13

AB-840: Vehicles: driver’s licenses: application requirements: stripped of all bicycling knowledge language, now only requires that drivers license applicants acknowledge the dangers of distracted driving

AB-956: Vehicle accidents: fleeing: no changes so far

AB-1002: Vehicles: registration fee: sustainable communities strategies: changed to remove urgency language and detail use for sustainable communities; still a good bill; hearing in Assembly Transportation 04/22/13

AB-1179 Regional transportation plan: sustainable communities strategy: schoolsites: language slightly diluted, still a good bill

AB-1193 Bikeways: allows cities and counties to use industry standards rather than the requiring the use of the Highway Design Manual; language improved, a great bill; hearing in Assembly Local Government 04/24/13

AB-1194: Safe Routes to School Program; maintains SRTS program at state level, added non-infrasture, statewide coordinator, and TARC; better; hearing in Assembly Transportation 04/15/13, 1:30PM

AB-1290: Transportation planning: broadens representation on the California Transportation Commission and requires reports on progress of transportation agencies in reaching sustainable community goals; seems to be a good bill; hearing in Assembly Transportation 04/29/13

AB-1371: Vehicles: bicycles: passing distance: this bill originally had a different purpose, and was revised to be a three foot passing law, it looks to me to be good; hearing in Assembly Transportation 04/22/13

Please let me know if you are aware of any other bills. I’ve signed up for tracking on these particular bills, but may not be keeping up to date.

High speed rail crawls forward

The California Senate joined the Assembly in passing SB 1029, which funds the first part of the California High Speed Rail system (see SacBee: California high-speed rail gets green light), using both state bond issue and federal transportation funds. The high speed part will be the Madera to Bakersfield section in the central valley (or just short of those end points), and there will be improvements not as clearly defined to the bay area and southern California rail networks, and may include electrification of Caltrain on the bay area peninsula. Of course all Republicans were opposed. I assume they just don’t like public money spent on things that don’t have to do with cars, their favorite welfare recipient. They claim that there isn’t money for it, but there seems to be money for highways.

It will be a long while before the system is done, and service to Sacramento is presumably at the tail end of the system. It may not ever be completed with the original vision, but I do think it will be completed, and will be one of the best things California has ever done for itself.

The central valley focus does not make many people happy, but the federal government essentially forced this on the state, saying they wouldn’t provide money if it didn’t start there. I don’t really understand their reasoning, but so be it. I also have concerns about where the line will go from Bakersfield. The rail authority has designated a route through Palmdale, even though no one wants to go to Palmdale, which is longer in both miles and time than a route over or under the Grapevine. On the northern end, the selected route goes through Pacheco Pass to pick up San Jose, which is at least more logical, but then faces the NIMBY towns on the peninsula to get to San Francisco. Another route across Altamont Pass was rejected but may not be completely dead – there is now a branch line over Altamont, the same route as the current Altamont Commuter Express (ACE), to serve Sacramento. Just to think outside the box, I actually think that a route directly across the bay bridge and into San Francisco might be the best. What are all those people doing driving across the bridge when they could be using public transportation? BART goes under the bay, why not additional options over the bay, on the bay bridge. Giving up a lane or two to rail traffic would be of benefit to all.