California Governor Newsom Vetoes AB 825 Safe Passage for Bikes Bill

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SACRAMENTO, California (October 10, 2023) — The Safe Passage for Bikes Bill (AB 825, Bryan) would have allowed people to ride bikes on sidewalks adjacent to streets that do not include a Class I, Class II, or Class IV bikeway. By vetoing this crucial bill, Governor Gavin Newsom has condemned people who get around by bike to mix with potentially lethal car and truck traffic rather than finding safe haven on sidewalks.

California Governor Gavin Newsom’s veto of the Safe Passage for Bikes bill means that cities can prevent cyclists from riding on the sidewalk even if no bike lane exists. Here, a mother and child navigate Hopkins Street sidewalk in Berkeley, California. Photo by Dave Iltis

“Is sidewalk riding ideal? No,” said Jared Sanchez, policy director for CalBike. “In a perfect world, most streets would be Complete Streets, with safe facilities for all modes of transportation. But that’s not the reality today and it will take years to transform every dangerous roadway in California into a safe route for biking. In the meantime, people on bikes must, at times, travel on streets with fast traffic and no bike lanes. By vetoing this bill, the governor has taken an action that will lead to more deaths and injuries of people on bikes.”

While CalBike agrees with the governor’s assertion in his veto statement that building better bike infrastructure is the best way to provide safe spaces for people who ride bikes and that the state has moved in the right direction to create more protected and connected bikeways, infrastructure for safe biking remains woefully inadequate.

It’s ironic that the governor to relies on Caltrans’ efforts to build Complete Streets when that agency has just fired the deputy director in charge of multimodal planning as she prepared to call it out on violating its own policies. Clearly, our state agencies aren’t doing enough to support active transportation. CalBike regrets the governor’s decision to veto an interim measure that would have provided safe passage for bikes while we work to build more bikeways.

California has to invest much more in Complete Streets to meet the demand for safe passage for bikes. We need dedicated funding for Complete Streets improvements on Caltrans-controlled roadways so Californians have more low- and no-carbon transportation options and greater mobility.

AB 825 would have been a step toward ending harassment of people on bikes

As an excellent LA Times investigation showed, police disproportionately target people on bikes, particularly Black and Latino men, stopping them for small infractions and then subjecting them to invasive searches. Disadvantaged neighborhoods are more likely to lack safe bikeways, forcing people to ride on sidewalks. Decriminalizing sidewalk riding would have not only protected bike riders from traffic violence, it would also have reduced harm to vulnerable populations from police encounters that can sometimes be deadly.

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