BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND HOUSING
                              Senator Jim Beall, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:          AB 28             Hearing Date:   6/16/2015 
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          |Author:   |Chu                                                   |
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          |Version:  |4/22/2015                                             |
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          |Urgency:  |No                     |Fiscal:      |Yes             |
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          |Consultant|Christine Hochmuth                                    |
          |:         |                                                      |
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          SUBJECT:  Bicycle safety:  rear lights


            DIGEST:  This bill authorizes the use of a solid or flashing red  
          light in place of a red reflector on the rear of a bicycle being  
          operated during darkness.

          ANALYSIS:
          
          Existing law:
          
          1)Places provisions on bicycles operated during darkness.  To be  
            compliant, bicycles must have:

             a)   A front-facing white light visible from a distance of  
               300 feet.
             b)   A rear-facing red reflector visible from a distance of  
               500 feet.
             c)   A white or yellow reflector on each pedal, shoe, or  
               ankle visible from the front and rear of the bicycle from a  
               distance of 200 feet.
             d)   A white or yellow reflector on each side forward of the  
               center of the bicycle and a white or red reflector on each  
               side to the rear of the center (unless the tires themselves  
               are reflectorized).

          1)Under federal regulations, requires all bicycles sold in the  
            U.S. to be equipped with reflective devices to permit  
            recognition and identification under illumination from motor  
            vehicle headlamps.  These reflective devices include front,  







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            pedal, rear, and side reflectors.

          This bill authorizes a red reflector, a solid red light, or a  
          flashing red light as acceptable for the rear-facing visibility  
          requirement.

          COMMENTS:

          1)Purpose of the bill.  A recent report from the Governor's  
            Highway Safety Association found that bicyclist fatalities  
            increased 16% nationwide between 2010 and 2012.  California  
            had the highest number of fatalities in any state during that  
            time period, at 338.  The report additionally noted that in  
            2012, nearly 27% of bicyclist deaths nationwide happened at  
            night, between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.  The author states that the  
            purpose of this bill is to encourage bicyclists to be as  
            visible as possible at night, and they believe that allowing  
            the replacement of a red reflector with a red light works  
            towards that end.    

          2)Countermeasures that work.  Improving bicyclist conspicuity is  
            intended to provide motorists more opportunity to see and  
            avoid collisions with bicyclists. A common contributing factor  
            for crashes involving bicyclists in the roadway is the failure  
            of the driver to notice the bicyclist, particularly at night.   
            New bicycles must be sold with reflectors meeting the Consumer  
            Product Safety Commission requirements.  The reflectors may  
            improve a bicycle's night-time visibility; however, they are  
            passive and must be illuminated by motor vehicle lights  
            approaching from behind.  Active bicycle lighting (lighting  
            that is powered by electricity and that must be turned on  
            before it starts working) can be critical for the detection of  
            bicyclists in the path of a motor vehicle, because the  
            bicyclist may be outside the vehicle's headlight beam until  
            the last moment.  
          
            A 2013 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety  
            Administration scored active lighting as: 

             a)   Low cost (can be implemented with current staff, perhaps  
               with training; limited costs for equipment, facilities, and  
               publicity).
             b)   High use (more than two-thirds of the states, or a  
               substantial majority of communities).
             c)   Medium effectiveness (likely to be effective based on  








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               balance of evidence from high-quality evaluations or other  
               sources).
          
          1)Batteries not included.  A potential safety hazard could arise  
            if bicycle operators completely remove their rear reflectors  
            in exchange for lights.  The fail-safe mechanism of the red  
            reflector as a last line of defense would no longer be  
            available.  Active light failure could occur due to loss of  
            battery power, theft of the device, or failure of the operator  
            to turn on the light, and the bicyclist would be left  
            vulnerable in darkness.  
          
          Assembly votes:

            Floor:    78-0
            Appr:     17-0
            Trans:    16-0

          RELATED Legislation:
          
          AB 478 (Wolk, Chapter 232, Statutes of 2007) - added sidewalks  
          and bikeways to the facilities upon which bicycle visibility  
          equipment during darkness is required.  Previously only bicycle  
          operation during darkness upon a highway was subject to the  
          visibility requirements. 

          FISCAL EFFECT:  Appropriation:  No    Fiscal Com.:  Yes     
          Local:  Yes


            POSITIONS:  (Communicated to the committee before noon on  
          Wednesday,
                          June 10, 2015.)

          SUPPORT:  

          California Bicycle Coalition

          OPPOSITION:

          None received


                                      -- END --
          








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