March 27, 2023
California cyclists have some good news coming out of the state legislature.
Assembly member Tasha Boerner Horvath has introduced A.B. 1188, a bill that would help speed creation of a California Bicycle Safety Handbook. Should the bill pass, state cyclists will finally have a handbook on par with the Driver’s Handbook, creating much-needed parity between the two groups.
The proposed handbook will cover existing laws for bicycles and e-bikes, safety equipment, and how to share the roads and bikeways with other users. In essence, the book would be a one-stop-shop for all cycling knowledge.
Advocates have long pushed the DMV to create and distribute a handbook like this, as they already do for seniors and motorcycle riders. Up until now, bicycle info has played a subordinate role and has been limited to the information contained within the Driver’s Handbook.
The bill calls for teamwork among the DMV, Caltrans, CHP, and the California Office of Traffic Safety, as well as major cycling organizations like the League of American Bicyclists and the American Bicycling Education Association. As these organizations already have extensive resources and materials on bike safety, creating the handbook won’t be a herculean task; it’s just a matter of collating the info and adding California-specific regulations.
Having this handbook available online and in DMV offices will not only be useful for safety but will also send a clear message: California bicycle riders have just as much right to use the roads as those car and truck drivers.
According to a recent Streetsblog post about the subject, the handbook is even more important with e-bike popularity surging. Jim Baross from the San Diego Bicycle Coalition pointed out that increased adoption of e-bikes will create a much more acute need for safety training and resources.
California’s bicycle laws have been changing, and they’re likely to continue evolving. The three-feet-for-safety law wasn’t around ten years ago, and now there’s even a lane-change requirement. Bills like A.B. 73, which would let cyclists treat stop signs as yield signs, keep coming back, despite previous defeats. So, having a Bicycle Handbook at the DMV would be the perfect starting point to keep everyone in the loop.
A.B. 1188 hasn’t been scheduled for a hearing, but action is expected soon. If everything proceeds as planned, California could have a much needed Bicycle Handbook in the near future — a key step toward ensuring safe streets and safer rides for all Californians.
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.