OmniBike Bill Gives Bicyclists More Rights on the Road
Bicyclists will be safer and have more rights on the road starting January 2023, thanks to a new California bill. AB 1909, also known as OmniBike Bill, was introduced by Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Burbank) and was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom in September 2022.
Bike activist groups applaud Assemblymember Friedman for her strong support of bicyclists and her support for transportation and community enhancement. They said the OmniBike Bill changes the vehicle code to recognize that traffic rules do not always work for bicyclists. Changing the vehicle code to make bicyclists safer affirms that bikes belong on California streets.
Four Vehicle Code Changes
Four changes will be made to the vehicle code. While each requirement alone may seem small, together, they represent a huge step in recognizing bicyclists’ rights to safely access public roads and bike paths.
Change Lanes to Pass
The most significant change requires drivers to switch lanes when passing a bicyclist. The original Three Feet Safety Act rule required motorists to give bicyclists a 3-foot margin when passing. But the old law was not easy to enforce since measuring 3 feet on the road is almost impossible. It also did not give bicyclists enough space in some situations. The OmniBike Bill will require drivers to change lanes when passing a bicyclist, just as they would if they were passing a vehicle. This will reduce accidents and make it easier for motorists to pass bikes safely.
Electric Bikes Allowed on Bike Paths
More people are riding e-bikes, but some cities are trying to limit where they can ride them. The OmniBike Bill allows most bikeways to include electric bikes. In certain areas, some or all electric bikes were banned. The bill requires that e-bikes get access to most bike paths except hiking, equestrian, and recreational trails.
Bicycles Can Cross During Walk Signals
It is safer for bicyclists to cross a street on the pedestrian walk signal. The OmniBike Bill would allow bicyclists to cross the road on pedestrian walk signals instead of waiting for a green traffic light. Earlier this year, Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 2264, which requires walk signals to give pedestrians a few seconds headstart to cross the street. Those on bikes would also get a headstart.
No More Bicycle Licensing Law
Some California cities have laws requiring people to get a bicycle license and register their bikes. Most residents are unaware of these bicycle licensing requirements. These laws are not often enforced but may still be used to harass people on bicycles. The OmniBike Bill would stop this enforcement and removes another pretext for biased policing across the Golden State.
The OmniBike Bill will amend the vehicle code to include these four provisions by the end of the year. However, the bill for bikes to get a head start on walk signals will take effect on January 1, 2024.
The OmniBike Bill is a significant victory for people who bike in California. Watch the YouTube video below to learn what one California activist is doing to make the road safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.
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