Bicyclists who are ticketed in California pay the same fee for a violation as car drivers. This will change with State Assembly Bill 902.
Update (9/21/2015): We did it! Today Governor Brown officially signed into law AB 902, making it legal for local police departments to offer an education class alternative to a monetary fine for individuals ticketed for a non-motor vehicle traffic violation! Advocates will still have to work with individual police departments to get these programs set up locally, as the ticket alternative isn’t available by default, but making it a legal possibility is a big step in the right direction.
With your support we can get these programs going all over the East Bay, so please consider joining Bike East Bay as a member. Anyone with questions is encouraged to contact Bike East Bay Education Director Robert Prinz at robert@BikeEastBay.org.
Update (9/1/2015): After unanimous votes of approval from both the state assembly and senate, AB 902 was delivered to the Governor’s desk for his signature yesterday. Although he has several months to either sign or veto the bill, things are still looking good and we are looking forward to it being approved and signed into law very soon.
Update (7/16/2015): AB 902 has now been passed unanimously by the senate transportation committee as well (11-0), and was amended to remove an earlier and confusing “for which no fee is charged” stipulation. It now goes to a vote with the full senate after which the governor can opt to veto or sign it into law. So far there is no vocal opposition so things are looking good!
Update (4/23/2015): The “Bike Traffic School” bill (AB 902) has been passed unanimously by the transportation committee (17-0) and by the full assembly (77-0). Next step, on to the state senate for more voting, then to the governor’s desk (hopefully!) for his signature.
When a bicyclist is ticketed for a moving violation in California, they by default receive the same monetary fine as when driving a motor vehicle. This means that with court fees added a stop sign violation can cost around $300, and running a red light around $500!
Enforcement of the law and setting a high standard for compliance is important for all road users, including bicyclists. However, the penalty should be determined in order to encourage safe behavior and not so punitive that it discourages bicycling altogether, especially for low-income individuals who rely the most on bicycling for everyday transportation.
With this in mind we have been working with our partners at the California Bicycle Coalition over the past year to draft and promote a change to the vehicle code allowing for a “bike traffic school” alternative which would allow ticketed bicyclists to take a free class and have their fine reduced. Now we are very excited to announce that State Assembly Members Richard Bloom and David Chiu have formally introduced Assembly Bill 902 which, if it makes its way through the committee process and is signed by the governor, could be enacted into law by the end of the year.
At the Bike East Bay strategic planning summit in January, we heard from participants loud and clear that more coordination with law enforcement was a high priority. These bicyclist ticket diversion programs will provide a great opportunity to interact with local police departments not just to implement the classes, but also to help prioritize enforcement of both bicyclist and driver infractions to have the biggest impact on safety, and to ensure that police officers have a clear understanding of bike law which will inform their response to collisions between bicyclists and motorists.
To learn more about this initiative and receive updates, please sign onto our petition here. Background info on this proposal and our past Bike Traffic School efforts is available at the following links:
- SF Chronicle: Bicyclist traffic school now in East Bay
- Alliance for Biking and Walking: In the East Bay, Advocates Partner with Alameda Police to Educate Ticketed Cyclists
- CBS 5: Traffic School Isn’t Just for Motorists Anymore