Legislative Victories for Bicyclists in California, Oregon and Washington in 2022
By Kent Klaudt
With the 2023 legislative session wrapping up, let’s look back at important legislative victories in Sacramento in 2022 affecting cyclists and pedestrians — spearheaded by the California Bicycle Coalition (CalBike), an organization advocating for bike-friendly laws and transportation infrastructure in California. If you live in California and ride, don’t forget to renew your CalBike membership!
CalBike sponsored the Plan for the Future Bill (SB 932, Portantino), which requires counties and cities to include a map of high injury areas in their General Plans and identify and prioritize safety improvements that address serious traffic collisions. The bill also creates a grant program to provide funding to cities and counties working to decrease bicycle, pedestrian, and other human-powered transportation injuries and fatalities. The bill passed the legislature and was signed into law by Governor Newsom.
Another CalBike-sponsored effort, The Freedom to Walk Bill (AB 2147, Ting), became law in 2022. The new law partially decriminalizes jaywalking and prevents police from issuing tickets unless the street crossing is truly dangerous. Calbike reports that this “is a welcome first step to stop the over-enforcement of an outdated statute invented a century ago by car companies.”
“Jaywalking laws do more than turn an ordinary and logical behavior into a crime; they also create opportunities for police to racially profile. A jaywalking ticket can turn into a potentially life-threatening police encounter, especially for Black people, who are disproportionately targeted and suffer the most severe consequences of inequitable law enforcement,” according to Jared Sanchez, Senior Policy Advocate for CalBike.
A pedestrian crosses a busy street in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Photo: Cristian Marin, Unsplash.
In November 2022, cyclist advocacy group BikeLoud PDX filed a lawsuit against the City of Portland alleging that Portland has failed to create bicycle infrastructure required by an Oregon law that has existed since 1971. This law requires that pedestrian and bicycle access be included when streets are constructed, reconstructed, or relocated. BikeLoud notes that “in 1995 the Bicycle Transportation Alliance successfully used this law to require Portland to include bicycle lanes for the Rose Quarter.”
BikeLoud PDX volunteers identified twenty-two streets constructed or reconstructed since 1971 without safe bicycle access. Public records requests identifying additional locations were refused by the city; thus, the total number of streets is unknown.
The Oregon Encyclopedia explains that the 1971 law was “the first of its kind in the United States [and] the Bicycle Bill foreshadowed the national Complete Streets movement that began to take hold three decades later to encourage the adoption of policies aimed at providing safe access to the streets for all users.”
We’ll be following the lawsuit and hope to see it successfully expand bike infrastructure for all.
A cyclist commutes across the Broadway Bridge in Portland.
On July 1, 2022, a new law went into effect requiring Washington state highway planners to use “Complete Streets” designs on projects costing more than $500,000. The goal is to improve safety, mobility, and accessibility for all road users, not just motorists. This requirement applies to state highways (aka State Routes), which pass through population centers.
“Incomplete streets” fail to consider the needs of all road users. The Complete Streets requirement was included in a transportation funding package approved by the Washington State Legislature in early 2022. The new law provides $1.3 billion in spending for “protected bike lanes, multi-use trails, Safe Routes to Schools, biking and walking infrastructure, and a new statewide school-based bicycle safety education program,” according to advocacy group Washington Bikes.
The Complete Streets requirement is an important part of the Move Ahead Washington legislation. “This directive will accelerate and enhance WSDOT’s efforts to become more multimodal. And it puts Washington at the forefront of the Complete Streets movement,” says Vicky Clarke, policy director for Washington Bikes and Cascade Bicycle Club.
In November 2022, Washington Bikes announced its policy and legislative agenda for 2023 and called for action on a variety of new laws, including lowering the state’s blood-alcohol limit for motorists to 0.05, banning motorist right turns on red lights in areas with high pedestrian and bicycle traffic, requiring driver education as a precondition for getting a driver’s license, and raising fees for the heaviest and deadliest vehicles.
Have you or someone you know been involved in a bicycle crash? Want to know about your rights? Are you a lawyer handling a bicycle crash who wants the best result for your client? Contact Bicycle Law at (866) 835-6529 or email@example.com.
Bicycle Law’s lawyers practice law through Coopers LLP, which has lawyers licensed in California, Oregon, and Washington state, and can affiliate with local counsel on bicycle cases across the country to make sure cyclists benefit from cycling-focused lawyers.