California road safety wins for bicyclists and e-bike riders

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California road safety wins for bicyclists and e-bike riders

The Bicycle Omnibus Bill, AB 1909, went into effect on January 1, 2023, making the roads safer for bicycles and more available to class 3 e-bikes. The goal is to bring these green modes of transportation to the forefront, making them truly safe and reliable.

Drivers, mover over

For close to 10 years, drivers have been required to maintain a three-foot buffer when passing bicyclists, but AB 1909 builds on this and requires cars to change lanes when passing if it’s at all possible. This mandate is akin to laws requiring drivers to change lanes for law enforcement or for highway crews. Drivers must defer and share the road. These are mandated expectations.

AB 1909 also prohibits cities from requiring bicycle licenses, thereby making it easier for bicyclists to just get some wheels and go.

In 2024, a fourth part of the bill goes into effect. Bicycles will be able to cross streets at pedestrian signals ahead of the green light, which should make crossings safer and reduce accidents overall.

E-bike glory

A network of roadways had been off limits to class 3 e-bikes but AB 1909 lifts that ban. E-bikes are permitted to use bicycle lanes, bicycle paths, equestrian trails and hiking trails.

With this added roadway access, e-bikes can really be brought into the urban mix, a transition just waiting to happen. Many car trips are under five miles. E-bikes are the cheaper, cleaner transport alternative and can easily replace a substantial portion of those miles.

All this seems to be good news, but with every change there are questions and perplexities. If the law seems unclear or if an accident has happened, it’s wise to consult with an attorney experienced in this area of the law.