California has implemented several new laws in 2023 to address the ongoing issues surrounding road safety, particularly for bicyclists and pedestrians.
These laws aim to make the state’s roads more accessible, safer, and inclusive to all who use them. In this article, we will discuss some of the most noteworthy laws that have been introduced and how they impact bicyclists, pedestrians, and drivers in California.
The OmniBike Bill (AB-1909)
The OmniBike Bill, also known as AB-1909, is one of the most significant new laws for bicyclists in California. This law introduces changes in how drivers and bicyclists share the road and aims to make it safer for both parties.
Here are some of the key provisions of the OmniBike Bill:
Requiring Drivers to Change Lanes to Pass Bicyclists
Under the OmniBike Bill, drivers must change lanes to pass bicyclists safely. This measure intends to reduce “dooring” accidents, which occur when a driver opens a car door without checking for approaching bicyclists. These are common bicycle accident settlements we pursue for clients.
Prohibiting Bicycle Licenses
California will no longer issue bicycle licenses under the OmniBike Bill. The removal of bicycle licensing aims to make bicycling more accessible and affordable to all Californians.
Allowing Class 3 Electric Bikes on Bike Paths
Previously, Class 3 electric bikes, capable of speeds up to 28 miles per hour, were not permitted on bike paths in California. However, the OmniBike Bill now allows these bikes on bike paths, provided they have specific safety features. Electric bicycle accidents are a major cause of accidents in California.
Allowing Bicyclists to Cross Intersections during “WALK” Signal
Under the OmniBike Bill, bicyclists can legally enter an intersection during a “WALK” signal as long as they yield to pedestrians and follow all other traffic laws.
The Freedom to Walk Act (AB-2147)
The Freedom to Walk Act, or AB-2147, is another crucial new law that impacts pedestrians in California. This law legalizes crossing the road outside of a crosswalk, as long as there is no immediate danger of a collision. The Freedom to Walk Act aims to increase pedestrian safety and accessibility.
Under the Freedom to Walk Act, pedestrians are allowed to cross the road outside of a crosswalk if:
- They are not crossing a divided highway.
- They are not interfering with traffic signals or signs.
- They yield to approaching vehicles.
However, pedestrians crossing outside of a crosswalk still have a responsibility to exercise reasonable care and caution.
SB-1472: Increased Penalties for Vehicular Manslaughter
SB-1472 is a new law that increases penalties for vehicular manslaughter involving speeding and reckless driving. This law increases the consequences for drivers who engage in reckless behavior on California’s roads and aims to deter others from doing the same.
Under SB-1472, drivers convicted of vehicular manslaughter while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or while committing a traffic offense, such as speeding or reckless driving, will face increased penalties. The penalty for vehicular manslaughter involving speeding or reckless driving has increased from a maximum of six years in state prison to a maximum of ten years.
AB-2000: Illegal Participation in Races or Sideshows in Off-Street Parking Facilities
AB-2000 is a new law that prohibits participation in races or sideshows in off-street parking facilities.
AB-2000 targets illegal street racing and sideshows, which have become increasingly common in California’s off-street parking facilities. The law’s goal is to prevent accidents and fatalities resulting from these dangerous activities.
Off-street parking facilities are defined as any publicly or privately owned property designated for parking or storage of motor vehicles, including parking lots and garages. AB-2000 states that it is illegal for anyone to participate in a race or sideshow within these facilities, and any violators will face consequences under the law.
Other New California Laws in 2023
In addition to the laws mentioned above, several other new laws have taken effect in California in 2023. Here are some of the noteworthy ones:
AB-685: Worker Protection from COVID-19
AB-685 requires employers to notify their employees of potential exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. This law ensures that workers are aware of potential exposure and can take necessary steps to protect themselves and others.
AB-701: Warehouse Working Conditions
AB-701 aims to improve working conditions for warehouse workers in California. The law requires employers to provide reasonable quotas, rest breaks, and other accommodations to workers. This measure seeks to prevent unfair treatment of workers, particularly in the gig economy.
AB-2015: Fair Access to Credit
AB-2015 prohibits credit discrimination against low-income Californians and other vulnerable communities. The law prohibits lenders from discriminating against individuals based on their source of income, such as government benefits or child support payments.
AB-2218: Mental Health Services for Immigrants
AB-2218 provides funding for mental health services for immigrants who are facing deportation or other legal challenges. This law aims to improve access to mental health care for immigrant communities in California.
California has introduced several new laws in 2023 aimed at enhancing road safety, accessibility, and inclusion. The OmniBike Bill and Freedom to Walk Act seek to improve the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians, while SB-1472 increases penalties for reckless driving and vehicular manslaughter. AB-2000 aims to prevent dangerous street racing and sideshows in off-street parking facilities.
Other laws, such as AB-685, AB-701, AB-2015, and AB-2218, address important issues related to worker protection, fair access to credit, and mental health services for vulnerable communities. These laws demonstrate California’s commitment to creating a safer, more equitable, and more just society for all.