Thanks to a bill introduced by Assemblyman Marc Steinorth that was signed into law last week, bicyclists can be prosecuted for hit-and-run on a protected bike lane, after it takes effect on Jan. 1.
Assembly Bill 1755 stems from a case in Sacramento in June 2017 when a runner suffered serious injuries after being struck by a cyclist on a Class 1 bikeway, a trail with a barrier to protect hikers, runners and cyclists, according to a legislative analysis.
The cyclist did not report the accident or render assistance.
The victim, an avid runner from Auburn, suffered multiple injuries including, facial and skull fractures, broken teeth, a broken hand and serious lacerations.
The Sacramento County district attorney’s office found that the California Vehicle Code was unclear if the cyclist could have been charged with hit-and-run if he or she had been found.
Steinorth’s bill makes it clear that it will apply.
“This unfortunate incident exposes a glaring hole in our current vehicle code, particularly during a time in which the state is transitioning to more active forms of transportation infrastructure — none of the rights or responsibilities regarding a hit-and-run applies to a bicyclist if they are on a bike path,” Steinorth said.
He added that the number of Class 1 bike paths and trails are expected to increase substantially in the next few years.
The 2017 State Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan aims to triple bicycling and double walking by 2020 and to reduce all traffic-related fatalities by 10 percent.
“To achieve these goals, one of the recommendations in the plan is to increase local and regional networks of high-quality bicycle and pedestrian facilities, including Class I fully separated bike paths and trails,” Steinorth said.
To speed things along, Senate Bill 1 — the gas tax increase approved last year — has doubled the funding for the state’s Active Transportation Program.
Steinorth’s bill was approved unanimously on the consent calendar in both houses and Gov. Jerry Brown announced the signing of the bill on Friday, July 20.
According to the Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan prepared by the California Department of Transportation, between 2005 and 2014, 134,125 bicycle-involved collisions and 136,618 pedestrian-involved collisions occurred in California. The bicycle collisions resulted in 1,349 bicyclist fatalities and 121,194 bicyclists injured. The pedestrian collisions resulted in 6,853 pedestrians killed and 130,752 pedestrians injured.
Less than half a mile of the bikeway near Greenspot Road through the Old Iron Bridge across the Santa Ana River is a Class 1 bikeway, and more are planned on two future routes between Highland and Redlands, said said Public Works Director Ernie Wong.
Highland has two bikeway projects in progress funded largely by the Active Transportation Program, partly from last year’s tax increase.
The $4.3 million Highland/Redlands Regional Connector along Orange Street will provide a path for students attending Citrus Valley High School. The $4 million Alabama Street/City Creek Bikeway will follow the street from Redlands almost to Third Street, then turn left, following a new City Creek trail to Base Line. Both projects are scheduled to begin in 2020.
City officials last week discussed another proposal, the Highland/San Bernardino Bi-City Bikeway. Most of the 6.3 route along Del Rosa Drive, Pacific Street and Palm Avenue will be Class 2 bikeways, with lines on the pavement, Wong said. Parts would be Class 3 bikeways, known as “share the road” paths with no lines on the street.
The city plans to apply for grants for the $11 million project with Caltrans this month, Wong said.
Highland anticipates $310,000 in SB1 funding in the 2017-18 fiscal year, said Wong. That includes $134,100 for pavement rehabilitation on Sterling Avenue from Base Line to Sixth Street, $110,000 for traffic signal maintenance, $34,000 for minor street maintenance and $25,000 for street striping and marking.
In 2018-19, the city anticipates $903,000 in SB1 funding, including $731,000 for pavement rehabilitation on nine street segments, $110,000 for traffic signal maintenance, $34,000 for minor street maintenance and $25,000 for street striping and marking.
Before SB1 was approved, California’s gas tax was 46.83 cents per gallon. Not counting revenue from SB1, the city expects more than $1.15 million in 2017-18 and nearly $1.33 million in 2018-19 for the Public Works maintenance and operations budget, Wong said.
“In addition to receiving a $903,000 annual SB1 subvention revenue, the city also benefits from various SB1-funded programs,” Wong said in an email. “For example, recently, the city was successful in securing a $1.7 million state grant under the SB1 Competitive Local Partnership Program.
“This one-time state grant under SB1 will help close the funding gap for construction of the city’s Third Street/Fifth Street Corridor Improvement Project.”
According to a press release from the Southern California Association of Governments issued last year, Highland received $3.17 million in the Active Transportation Program funding for the Alabama Street/City Creek Bikeway. That would pay for 9,020 feet of improved bike paths on the west City Creek levee and the widening of 3,080 feet of Alabama Street to make room for the bike lanes between Third Street and the city’s southern boundary.