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Stop! California governor vetos bicycle stop and jaywalking legislation

Published October 11, 2021

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (BRAIN) — California's Gov. Gavin Newsom has vetoed bills that would have allowed cyclists to treat stop signs like yields and repealed jaywalking laws. Both bills were supported by bike and pedestrian advocacy groups including CalBike.

The Safety Stop bill (AB 122) is similar to laws in 10 other states and allows people on bikes to treat stop signs as yields.

In a veto message, Newsom said, "While I share the author's intent to increase bicyclist safety, I am concerned this bill will have the opposite effect. The approach in AB 122 may be especially concerning for children, who may not know how to judge vehicle speeds or exercise the necessary caution to yield to traffic when appropriate.

"Gov. Newsom showed today he doesn't understand the needs of people who use bikes for everyday transportation. This commonsense law would have reduced conflict between bike riders and car drivers," said Dave Snyder, Executive Director of CalBike. "I'm disappointed that, while climate change ravages our state, the governor blocked a popular measure that would have helped more people choose carbon-free transportation."

The Freedom to Walk Act (AB 1238) would have ended penalties for safe mid-block pedestrian crossings. CalBike and a coalition of more than 90 groups and individuals supported the repeal of jaywalking laws.

"The governor's veto rests on the belief that police enforcement or the threat of jaywalking tickets will somehow prevent pedestrian fatalities in the future when that has consistently failed in the past. Continuing to criminalize people's rational, predictable responses to poor infrastructure is simply unjust," said Jared Sanchez, CalBike's Senior Policy Advocate.

CalBike said neighborhood design and street infrastructure leave many lower-income California neighborhoods less than pedestrian-friendly.

"Because of this, policing jaywalking often amounts to punishing people for the lack of government services in their community," the group said. 

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