California Cyclists Will Benefit from New Safety Laws, Expanded Access in 2023

The OmniBike Bill contains several new provisions that should lower risk and increase fairness for state cyclists

California cyclists have been making incremental progress for years in the battle for safer streets, sidewalks and trails and greater accessibility.

Thanks to the state’s new “OmniBike” bill, signed in late 2022 by Gov. Gavin Newsom, several small yet important safety and fairness measures are being enacted simultaneously.

Four Key Changes

The OmniBike bill introduces four changes to the California state vehicle code.

  • Previously, drivers were only required to keep 3 feet of space between their vehicle and bikes when passing them. This rule has drawn criticism from safety advocates, who say that 3 feet is not sufficient space and that the existing law has been difficult to enforce. The new law now requires drivers to move over to an adjacent lane, if one is available, or slow down and only pass when it is safe.
  • Accessibility for Class 3 e-bikes has been expanded. Class 3 e-bikes’ motors are capable of reaching 28 miles per hour whereas most other e-bikes can only reach 20 miles per hour. The prior law prohibited Class 3 e-bikes from bike lanes, bike paths, and recreational trails. The new law allows these bikes on all of these previously prohibited routes. However, cities, counties, and park and recreation departments can still limit e-bike use on their paths and trails within their jurisdiction.
  • Bicycle licensing laws are now limited statewide. A city or county which adopts a licensing ordinance cannot prohibit the operation of unlicensed bikes with their jurisdictions.
  • Finally, on January 1, 2024 state law will allow cyclists to cross streets with pedestrians during pedestrian walk symbols, even when facing a standard solid red traffic control signal. Advocates say this will help improve the flow of traffic while also keeping cyclists safer.

Small Steps Can Create Larger Change

While these may not be earth-shattering changes individually, taken as a whole they represent a larger step forward for safety, accessibility and fairness for all California cyclists.

Finding the Right Bicycle Accident Attorney

Gary Brustin is a lifelong cyclist and a specialist in bicycle accident law. In fact, these are the only types of cases he accepts. If you’ve been injured in a collision, we urge you to contact Gary for a complimentary consultation.

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