Car-Lite Meeting with Senator Gonzalez on SB 960, 961 & 1216

On Tuesday, April 2, 2024, Car-Lite Long Beach members, Kurt Canfield and Kerry Beth Larick met with senator Lena Gonzalez and legislative aide Marissa Hagerman to discuss SB-960 (Complete Streets and Transit Priority Policies), SB-961 (Speed Limiters & Side Guards), and SB-1216 (Sharrows). We don’t often get to speak directly to our state legislators, so we were happily surprised to spend 30 minutes face-to-face with our District 33 senator who lovingly calls Long Beach her home and who was in full support of these three bills.

Here’s a recap of what we discussed:

SB-960: Complete Streets and Transit Priority Policies

Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) is a prime example of a state road that was built to prioritize high-speed motorist traffic. What happens when the highway does not prioritize other road users? People die. Within Long Beach alone, there is a high volume of pedestrian and cyclist traffic deaths along PCH. The bill would require Caltrans to prioritize the movement of people, not just motorists by implementing complete streets measures in infrastructure projects as well as providing transit solutions along PCH.

Improving transit = improved ridership: We discussed how improved transit and dedicated bus lanes along PCH would increase ridership by providing a more favorable transportation experience to driving and car ownership. Senator Gonzalez iterated that dedicated bus lanes would not be a detriment to emergency services and that there is room for everyone to share the road, but that she is aware of this narrative within the opposition to dedicated bus lanes as seen with measure HLA, which passed in March 2024.

Showing Caltrans’ apathy toward complete streets: An example we shared with senator Gonzalez was from February 17, 2024 when Car-Lite Long Beach members were alerted from a Facebook post (images below) that the Caltrans project along PCH between Seal Beach Blvd and Sunset Beach had widened motorist lanes and narrowed bike lanes in both directions of the Anaheim bridge. This is a common route used by commuters and road cyclists travelling between Long Beach and Huntington Beach.

SB-961: Speed Governors and Truck Side Guards – Vehicle Safety Standards

SB-961 highlights that speed is a major factor in the mortality rates in traffic collisions. It also highlights a major problem in side underride collisions. Gonzalez made a note that this bill is going to be a tough one to tackle as it affects all car manufacturers, but that she believes it is important and hopes to emulate the success of Intelligent Speed Assistance technology in the European Union.

How Long Beach is currently dealing with speed:

SB-961 is one more way that can help Long Beach reduce traffic deaths and work toward its vision zero goals.

Car manufacturers have a responsibility to safety for pedestrians, too–not just drivers:

Senator Gonzalez talked about the recent story of a four year-old pedestrian that was struck and killed by a motorist driving a Ford F-150 in Long Beach. We noted that the F-150 is not only the highest selling vehicle in the U.S., but also the top vehicle involved in pedestrian deaths. When taking into consideration design features like hood height and vehicle weight, the likelihood that a person will get killed even at slower speeds increases. While this is not directly related to the bill at hand, it was worth noting in regards to manufacturers’ responsibility to safety.

SB-1216: Sharrows

SB-1216 will exclude Class III bikeways (Sharrows) from being eligible for Active Transportation Program funds and will prohibit new or restriped Class III bikeways on roads where the speed limit is 30mph or more.

Paint is not infrastructure: We talked about how other cities have prioritized Class III bikeways to solve gaps in their bicycle networks without putting in real investment into better infrastructure for cyclists. We shared our personal experiences using sharrows with senator Gonzalez, where they work best if needed, where they don’t work and why.

  • Where Sharrows work best in our city: We highlighted that Sharrows in Long Beach off of neighborhood residential streets like Vista and 6th don’t see a lot of car traffic, but also feature traffic-calming infrastructure that slow down drivers, making it feel safer to share the road.
  • Where sharrows seem like a good idea, but aren’t: We also highlighted that while 4th Street and 10th Street sharrows have a lower speed limit, that these streets feel unsafe due to the high volume of traffic. They are not like residential streets because there are businesses and parking on both sides while motorists are using the center lane to pass, turn, or temporarily park. Having to navigate car traffic like that present risks to cyclists and pedestrians using or crossing the road.
  • Where sharrows suck but are better than nothing: We also mentioned that sharrows in the 2nd street business area (while not ideal) have reduced traffic collisions and fatalities along that corridor, but it’s the combination of Sharrows and 13 traffic lights that slow speeds. It still feels unsafe having to ride surrounded by motorists trying to pass cyclists or stopping abruptly for street parking.
  • The worst sharrow: Our most concerning sharrow is the one along the 2nd Street bridge where drivers tend to go over 30mph–especially heading west near the Appian Way exit. We’ve seen harassment by drivers toward cyclists on many occasions on this section of road. Sharrows communicate to the driver that the road equally belongs to them, so any inconvenience perceived by the driver from sharing the road with cyclists also creates hostility towards cyclists.

Senator Gonzalez was surprised by all the near death experiences and harassment we and our loved ones have faced just trying to commute to work on Class III bikeways. She supported our sentiment that sharrows should not be used to skirt real infrastructure. Overall, she was happy to discuss her support of these bills and would like to keep the conversation going. We’re hoping she can come show support in-person in May for bike month.


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