Written By Chris Dolan and Megan Irish
Dear Dolan Team, Happy New Year, 2024! As we get into the new year, is there anything new we need to know about? What can affect my day-to-day life in San Francisco and the greater bay area? Are there important changes happening in California? – Always Curious in California
Dear Curious in California, Happy New Year 2024 indeed. While there are many new laws coming into effect for 2024 there are three laws that are focused on transportation and traffic laws that will impact all drivers and cyclists that we should all be aware of. Several other important new laws are noted below as well.
The first new law is AB 1909 and it applies to bicyclists. The law will add to the existing vehicle code regarding bicycles at stop lights and CVC Section 21456.2 will read, “Whenever an official traffic control signal exhibiting different colored bicycle symbols is shown concurrently with official traffic control signals or pedestrian control signals exhibiting different colored lights or arrows, an operator of a bicycle facing those traffic control signals shall obey the bicycle signals as provided in Section 21456.3.”
This means that a cyclist may come to an intersection that has a separate traffic light system for bicycles. Cyclists will be required to follow the bicycle signals at the intersection even if they are different than the car and pedestrian signals.
Another new law is aimed at reducing speeding vehicles by establishing an automated camera system in some cities. The speeding vehicles will be recorded by the automated camera program and a ticket will be issued. We all know that when drivers speed, they can cause collisions with fatal consequences with other cars, with cyclists, and with pedestrians. This new law will permit certain cities, including Long Beach, San Jose, Oakland, Glendale, Los Angeles and San Francisco, to implement a Speed Safety System Pilot Program. This program is a series of cameras placed strategically around the town to capture speeding activity. The speeding drivers would receive a ticket in the mail. The listed cities, including the City and County of San Francisco, will first have to hold a thirty day public information campaign, that would in part advise where the system would be implemented, and how the photographic and administrative information gathered in the program would remain confidential. After these preliminary steps have been met, each city could begin a warning period, where the cameras would be up and running, but the speeder would receive a written warning in the mail. After the warning period, fines starting at $25.00 would be issued to the speeders documented by the cameras. This program is scheduled to sunset in 2032.
As well there is a new law, AB 410, that will modify the definition of mobility devices, and require a tactile sign, including braille, to identify the device for the purposes of negligence and or illegal activities. Mobility devices will include electrically motorized boards, motorized scooters and both electric and non-electric bicycles.
There are also several new laws designed and intended to improve public safety, including SB2 that will limit the concealed carry of firearms in some public spaces, including schools. There will also be increased penalties for drug offenders, specifically those distributing fentanyl under AB 701. In addition to Amber Alerts, California is implementing Ebony Alerts under SB 673, which will make an emergency alert to assist in locating missing black women and youth. With respect to child sec trafficking, SB 14 will increase penalties on persons convicted of such crimes.
As well, California endeavors to have gender neutral toys, and will require stores with over 500 employees to carry a selection of gender-neutral children’s toys.
Looking into the future, there is a new law coming, which bans the use of twenty-six chemicals as ingredients in cosmetics. This law follows up on laws enacted by California back in 2020 which banned the intentional use of twenty-four chemicals for use in personal care products. This law, AB 496, will not come into effect until January 1, 2027, but similar to the counter part in the European Union, its goal is to make products safer for all people using them. It is not unreasonable to hope that the size of the Californian marketplace will drive manufacturers to reformulate their products in compliance with the California law, and then sell that safer, reformulated version throughout the county rather than produce two formulas. There is also a national cosmetics regulatory overhaul presently in the works, so with these two endeavors we can hope for safer products for all in the future.