Insurance committee to review bill that could kill bike sharing – Streetsblog California
Editor’s Note: This (Wednesday) afternoon, the California Senate Insurance Committee will consider a bill whose author, Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), says his goal is to protect pedestrians — but who would instead kill bike- and scooter-sharing systems in California.
In the name of security, AB 371 would require heavy and disproportionate insurance coverage for bike and scooter sharing businesses – well beyond what is currently required for motor vehicles. It’s supposed to help people who might be injured by people using the devices recover from damage, but it’s not the same as improving safety at all.
The bill has been sitting on the insurance committee for a year and is now being pushed to pass before the end of this two-year session. The committee could vote to pass or delete it today.
Below is a letter signed by a coalition of twenty organizations that explains the deep flaws in AB 371 and explains why it would fail to achieve what it claims.
To watch today’s hearing, log in here once the hearing has started at 1:30 p.m. (or later; sometimes committee hearings start late). Scroll down to find the list of insurance committee.
Dear Senator Rubio:
The California Bicycle Coalition and our partners oppose AB 371. The effects of the bill do not match its intentions to protect pedestrians. Instead, it will damage the potential of shared bikes and scooters to provide a safe, equitable, and accessible transportation option to disadvantaged communities in California. It will increase driving and all the harms associated with such an increase: increased injuries and deaths from traffic accidents, reduced economic security for low-income people, and increased pollution in already overcrowded neighborhoods.
Today’s shared bicycle and scooter systems do not cause the problems they caused when they were first deployed a few years ago. Their users have too often left them abandoned in the pedestrian path, which presents a danger for pedestrians, which is particularly problematic for people with visual impairments. Sometimes their users, especially when riding a scooter, drive them onto the sidewalk where they could crash into a pedestrian. At the heart of our advocacy for equitable and inclusive communities, CalBike recognizes that sidewalks are the domain of pedestrians and that people deserve to walk (or push their wheelchairs, etc.) without negotiating that space with others on fast wheeled devices.
The problem of misused bicycles and scooters on the sidewalk is mainly solved in modern shared micromobility systems. Thanks to state law allowing cities to regulate these devices, and cities whose permits recognize these issues, carriers can now require the user to park their device on a pole, safely and out of the way. , before he could complete his journey. Scooters are now equipped with the curb detection capability which can prevent operation on the curb.
State law could amplify these local initiatives by mandating such practices where appropriate, rather than leaving it up to cities, and further the cause of safer sidewalks. AB 371 does not do this. Instead, it imposes an insurance requirement on the entire shared micromobility industry that will dramatically increase the cost and make it nearly impossible to extend service to the people who need it most. That burden will hurt Californians more than the benefit of a few injury settlements. The harm is immense.
Shared bikes and scooters, when combined with public transit, are the future of equitable mobility. Where Californians currently must rely on a car for convenient door-to-door transportation, a bikeshare can bridge the gap between a user’s destination and the nearest reasonably convenient transit station. Or it can take you directly to your destination for a fraction of the cost of an automobile. It is imperative for fairness, climate and safety that we provide Californians with a public transportation system that is competitive with the automobile. Shared bikes and scooters are by far the most cost effective way to do this. AB 371 will increase the costs of shared micromobility and make it much more difficult to provide the fair transportation system that Californians deserve.
Importantly, this drives up the cost of cycling to the same extent as the cost of running scooters, despite the very different risk-benefit profiles of scooters and bicycles. Even if the committee decides that insurance for certain devices is a good policy, bicycles should not be included in this legislation.
Bikes are superior to scooters in several ways. Their larger wheels make them much safer for the user. With greater load capacity, they are much more useful. Data from shared micromobility companies indicates that they are much less likely to be driven on the sidewalk. They are much less likely to be parked incorrectly, although as noted, thanks to permit regulations, scooter users are adopting the long-standing custom of cyclists parking their bikes next to parking meters or on a bike rack. off the footpath. Of travel.
Basically, cyclists derive health benefits from riding. This is just as true for shared e-bikes as it is for regular bicycles, as shared e-bikes can be regulated to limit their maximum motor-assisted speed and to ensure that at least some effort is required to pedal the device. Increased cycling will improve public health by reducing the incidence of cardiovascular disease, cancer and depression, and reduce health care costs. This is a consideration of extreme importance where the government has a greater responsibility for health care and therefore a greater concern about the costs of health care, and should be of vital concern to legislators who aspire to improve California’s health care system and reduce health insurance costs for taxpayers. and businesses.
AB 371 has even more questions about transportation and health policy. Why are mopeds not included? California law allows users to be offered shared mobility systems using mopeds without requiring motorcycle licenses that are otherwise required for mopeds for personal use. By exempting mopeds from this insurance requirement but including bicycles, AB 371 provides a perverse incentive to rely on mopeds for shared mobility, increasing the risk of serious injury to drivers and pedestrians and decreasing opportunities to improve public health.
Finally, AB 371 misses an opportunity to promote safe and equitable shared mobility by not placing a cap on insurance requirements authorized by government agencies. If $10,000 is the right amount, it should be legislated as such and not treated simply as a floor. Government agencies should not be allowed to engage in “transportation compliance” by effectively banning shared micromobility in their communities, which they can do by imposing prohibitive insurance requirements.
We are currently seeing this impact with the Legislature-approved Clean Mobility Options program to improve transportation equity. The Air Resources Board has awarded a number of $1 million CMO grants to nonprofits and city agencies to operate bike-sharing for their low-income residents. None of these programs are currently operational as they cannot find insurance to meet ARB requirements. The Insurance Committee should free up CMO money by treating an appropriate insurance limit, applied to the appropriate devices, as a cap as well as a floor.
In sum, AB 371 has serious implications for equity in transportation. This will hurt our ability to improve public health and provide alternatives to driving that are critical to our equity and climate goals. It will increase driving and all the harms associated with increased traffic, including, tragically, pedestrian injuries and deaths. The AB 371 does not strike the right balance between giving injured pedestrians the opportunity to recover damage from injuries and preventing those injuries in the first place.
We urge the committee to reject AB 371 and consider it next year after the transportation committees have had a chance to assess how to strike that balance in a way that preserves our opportunities to develop a system of fair, healthy and environmentally sustainable transportation.
Thanks for your consideration.
California Bicycle Coalition, Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, Napa County Bicycle Coalition, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, Active San Gabriel Valley, Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates, San Diego County Bicycle Coalition, Shasta Living Streets, Bike SLO, SLO County Central California Asthma Collaborative, Inland Empire Biking Alliance, Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition, Planning and Conservation League, Safe Routes Partnership, Marin County Bike Coalition, SBBIKE+COAST, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Bike Bakersfield, TransForm, Santa Ana Active Streets, Santa Barbara BCycle and People for Mobility Justice.