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CalBike Report 
News from the California Bicycle Coalition    

JANUARY 2010     

In this issue
2010 legislation
Riding on sidewalks
Headphones while riding
CBC News
CBC News
Safety education
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2010 bills to focus on vulnerable road users, lane position


CBC's agenda for 2010 legislative session includes two bills that clarify and strengthen laws to protect bicyclists.


CBC will sponsor a bill to enhance the penalties for careless drivers who injure or kill bicyclists, pedestrians, runners, highway workers, farm equipment operators and other vulnerable road users.


Modeled after a law passed in Oregon in 2007, CBC's bill seeks to impose more appropriate penalties for offenses that typically result in either a traffic ticket or a manslaughter charge. Penalties in Oregon include a mandatory court appearance and, for drivers found guilty, traffic school, community service, a fine of up to $12,500 and a one-year suspension of driving privileges.


CBC will also sponsor legislation to clarify the statute that allows bicyclists to move to the center of the lane when conditions make it unsafe to share the lane with a motor vehicle.


California Vehicle Code Section 21202 requires bicyclists to ride as far right as "practicable" but allows a bicyclist to use the full lane when obstacles, roadway conditions or "substandard width lanes" make it unsafe to ride side-by-side with a motor vehicle within the lane.


California bicyclists are often cited because law enforcement officials and judges can't agree on how to interpret this section of the law.


CBC is also considering legislation to add a bicycling representative to the California Traffic Control Devices Committee, which adopts statewide standards for traffic-related signs, signals and pavement markings. Although the committee's work affects all roadway users, committee membership is limited to motor vehicle interests, including two representatives of AAA. This month the CTCDC rejected a proposal to add a non-voting bicycling representative.


Meanwhile, Marin County Assembly Member Jared Huffman is considering legislation to increase penalties for drivers who violate the prohibitions against calling or texting with a hand-held cell phone. Many local jurisdictions impose their own steep penalties for violators, but the fines specified in state law offer little deterrence: California hits first-time offenders with a $20 fine, and $50 per offense thereafter.


Read a recent Streetsblog post about vulnerable road user laws by CBC president Dave Snyder

CEQA reform

Revised guidelines remove obstacles to bike-friendly development


Motor vehicle traffic no longer enjoys privileged protection under California's environmental review law.


On Dec. 30, the California Natural Resources Agency approved revised implementation guidelines for the California Environmental Quality Act that include these changes related to transportation:

- the impact of a proposed development project on the "level of service" of motor vehicle traffic is no longer the only measure of a potential impact on the transportation system; jurisdictions can choose other measures.

- parking capacity is no longer a factor in measuring a project's potential environmental impact.

- a project's impact on all modes of travel must now be considered.


The agency approved revised CEQA guidelines as part of the state's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California. The revised guidelines make it easier for public agencies to approve proposed development projects that promote greater use of bicycling, walking and public transit.


CBC, local bicycle coalitions, environmental advocates and public agencies lobbied for eliminating "level of service" or LOS from among the impacts that can trigger an environmental review or mitigation under CEQA. LOS is a measure of traffic flow and density at key locations during peak periods. Mitigation in response to impacts on LOS often includes widening streets, eliminating bike lanes and removing pedestrian crosswalks.


Read more about the Resource Agency's rulemaking process for CEQA guidelines.

Bicycling and the law
Many thanks to CBC board member and bicycle attorney Gary Brustin for reviewing this article.

Can I wear headphones while riding?


What the law says: California Vehicle Code Section 27400 prohibits motor vehicle operators and bicyclists from wearing headphones or earplugs on the road. Exceptions are made for those who wear hearing aids and those who use gear designed to protect against harmful noise levels.


Bicyclists who ride with headphones are often cited and fined for violating the prohibition, although a few communities offer the option of attending a bicycle safety class in lieu of paying the fine.


The rest of the story: A study released last year showed that 80% of vehicle crashes and 65% of near-crashes involve some form of driver distraction. Cell phone use by drivers gets the most attention, but any activity that distracts roadway users from what's happening around them is potentially dangerous.


Headphones or earbuds keep a bicyclist from hearing the sound of horns, bells and approaching traffic - all vital cues when riding on the road. They also take one's mind off the road. For most bicyclists, that's the point: listening to music is entertaining, even energizing. But enjoying the music interferes with one's cognitive ability to monitor and respond to roadway conditions. Besides putting themselves at risk, distracted bicyclists endanger other bicyclists and pedestrians, as well as motorists.

The take-away: Bicyclists already are among the most vulnerable road users. Those who ride with headphones make themselves even more vulnerable. This law serves the goal of keeping the attention of bicyclists (and motorists) where it's most vitally needed: on the road. 
National Bicycle Summit

Help shape bike advocacy agenda in D.C.


As Congress and federal agencies begin writing transportation, climate, health care, natural resources and other critical pieces of legislation that will shape our future, bicycling must be part of the solution.


Join bicycle advocates from throughout the U.S. for the League of American Bicyclists' annual National Bicycle Summit, March 9-11, 2010, in Washington, D.C.


The summit agenda includes general sessions and breakouts on such topics as livable communities, healthy transportation, complete streets, using social media for advocacy, traffic justice and involving bicycle retailers in advocacy.


Participants will also meet with their congressional representatives to encourage legislation, policies and funding that enable more people to ride bicycles for transportation and recreation more often. CBC is helping arrange meetings with the California congressional delegation.


Early-bird registration discounts end Feb. 4. Click here to learn more.

Safe Routes to School National Partnership

SRTS seeks program manager


The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is hiring a full-time, work-from-home program manager to provide technical assistance and support to local communities looking to implement SRTS programs, as well as produce resource guides, case studies and materials that support SRTS implementation across the country. Interviews start soon - apply today! Click here for a full job description.

Safety education


Traffic Skills 101, Street Skills, Fri., Feb. 19 & Sat., Feb. 20

Traffic Skills 101, Street Skills, Fri., Mar. 19 & Sat., Mar. 20




Traffic Skills 101, Feb. 25-27


Urban Cycling Skills, Drills and On-street, Sat. Jan. 30

Urban Cycling Skills, Drills and On-street, Sat. Feb. 6

Urban Cycling Skills, Bike Maintenance, Tues., Mar. 23

Santa Barbara

Street Skills, Thurs, Mar. 18


Santa Monica

Confident City Cycling 1, Sat., Feb. 20

Confident City Cycling 2, Sat., Feb. 27

Smart Cycling Basics, Thurs., Feb. 4 
Smart Cycling in Traffic, Weds., Feb. 10 
To learn more about other courses being offered throughout California, visit the League of American Bicyclists website  and select "Courses" and "California."


Breakaway Ride, Sun., Apr. 11

Ride the Amgen Tour route from Davis to Santa Rosa

A benefit for Breakaway for Cancer



Sea Otter Classic, Apr. 15-18

Palm Springs
Tour de Palm Springs, Sat., Feb. 13
Pasadena Marathon Bike Tour, Sun., Feb. 21
A benefit for Pasadena Forward 

San Diego

Gran Fondo Colnago, Sun., Mar. 7


Thousand Oaks

Breakaway Ride, Sun., Apr. 25

Ride the Amgen Tour circuit route starting in Thousand Oaks

A benefit for Breakaway for Cancer

Find a full calendar of rides throughout California at Bikelink.