California Legislation Watch: Weekly Update

Here’s Streetsblog’s weekly highlight of legislation and events related to sustainable transportation moving through the legislative process in Sacramento.

  • Bike Racks on Buses: A.B. 2707, Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park), would allow transit agencies to install racks that can carry three bikes on the front of buses. Why does this require legislation? Current law limits the total length of buses to 45 feet, but buses are longer than ever, many now 40 feet long and longer. A rack that can hold three bikes would put some buses over the legal limit. At the same time, more people want to bring their bikes with them when they ride the bus, and the two-bike racks on most buses have become inadequate.

Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 4.37.10 PMIn 2009, AC Transit in the San Francisco Bay Area got special legislation passed allowing it to put three-bike racks on its longer buses, with some caveats: for any bus longer than 40 feet, a team of reviewers had to inspect the bus route and decide whether a bus with a longer bike rack could safely navigate it, and the agency had to report back to the legislature at the end of 2014 about whether the longer racks caused problems.

Meanwhile, two other agencies got permission for the longer racks: Gold Coast Transit in Ventura and Sacramento Rapid Transit. With L.A. Metro and San Diego and others wanting to install three-bike racks, a statewide approach makes more sense. A similar bill from Rocky Chavez (R-Oceanside), A.B. 1684, which focused on North County Transit Agency buses, was dropped because this statewide bill would cover the issue.

A.B. 2707 passed out of the Assembly Transportation Committee on Monday and then was passed in a floor vote by the entire Assembly. It now goes to the Senate.

  • Bicycle Infrastructure: S.B. 1183, Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee on a narrow 6-4 vote.

This bill, which Streetsblog has reported on several times, would allow a city, county, or regional park to propose a motor vehicle registration fee, capped at $5, and submit it to voters. The bill is sponsored by the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD), which has received grants to build a network of bike paths that connect to BART and Amtrak, but cannot use grant money for their maintenance and repair. These paths, said Robert Doyle, director of the EBRPD, are now “a major piece of the transportation network” and data show they are used for commuting to work and school and for shopping trips, as well as recreation.

DeSaulnier had to reassure the other senators that the final wording would make it clear that any proposed fee would have to be passed by a supermajority, two-thirds of the voters, before he got the votes he needed.

Read about more legislation, including the first steps towards a Vehicle Miles Traveled Fee, electric bicycles, and vehicle retirement after the jump.

  • Vehicle Miles Traveled Fee: S.B. 1077, also from DeSaulnier, passed more easily out of the Transportation Committee (9-0). It would set guidelines for creating a pilot project to test the efficacy of a VMT fee as a substitute for the gas tax, the idea being that people would pay for infrastructure according to how much they drive, not how much fuel they use. Declining gas tax revenues from fuel efficient cars, and the idea that people should pay for repair on the roads they drive, are the guiding principles behind a VMT fee, which has had a successful opt-in pilot in Oregon. The bill is now added to the pile in Appropriations.
  • Electric Bicycles: A.B. 2173, Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) would allow what it’s calling “low-speed electric bicycles” in bike lanes and paths. The bill passed the Assembly Transportation Committee 15-0 and goes on to Appropriations.
  • Vehicle Retirement and Replacement: S.B. 1275, Kevin DeLeon (D-Los Angeles), requires the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to add public transportation and ridesharing options to its programs offering incentives for getting rid of polluting vehicles, as alternatives to replacement vouchers. CARB is also required to improve outreach to low-income communities, which are currently not benefitting from clean-vehicle incentives, and the bill sets a goal of having one million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2023. It passed out of the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality on a 6-1 vote, and now heads, with the rest of the bunch, to Appropriations.

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  • Fakey McFakename

    Thanks! Any chance Streetsblog could add a similar feature for important proposed regulatory rulemakings and the like? It would be great if this blog could provide people with the opportunity to flood agencies with written comments to emphasize that we have views they should listen to.

  • John McCready

    If bicyclists want to “take” their bicylists somewhere, they should RIDE the damned thing! It is annoying that MTA buses and trains are having to “accomadate” those who already have made their transportation choice! MILLIONS are spent on adding and improving bike lanes all over L.A. County. Its time that the bicyclists started USING THEM! GET RID OF ALL BIKE RACKS ON MTA BUSES!

  • It’s not a bad idea…I’m not sure if we have the capacity for that, but we can look into it.

  • andrelot

    Bike racks slow down buses and make stop time unpredictable.

    Cities and countries with widespread bike use do not have these absurd things on their buses or trams. You can either take the bikes inside (on larger trains with space for bikes) or you can’t, and have to use other measures. Bike share, bike parking near light rail/subway and Metrolink are the solution, not those bike racks.

  • Joe Linton

    Wheelchairs, strollers, large packages, old-people-in-general all slow buses down and make stop time unpredictable. Take those absurd things off buses too!

  • Kenny Easwaran

    But it’s also true that by their very nature, bike racks can only be helpful if bikes are either unpopular, or if very few people want to bring them on buses. Bikes on transit are a nice perk for private bike owners during this transition period when biking is becoming more common, but the real future has to be public bike share everywhere.

  • Many people bring their bike on the bus because they have nowhere to store it otherwise. That’s taken care of in countries where bike use is widespread by providing bike parking at the bus stop. As it is, it’s not uncommon to see many bikes chained to the bus stop poles here already. Transit agencies/DOTs should take the hint and start actually accommodating bike parking at transit stops and stations.

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