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New Law Gives Ticketed Bicyclists a Chance to Take Safety Classes to Reduce Fines

In recent months, Los Angeles has been making leaps and bounds toward being a more bike friendly city. In the past two months alone, there's been the Mobility Plan 2035, Metro's new bike hub program, and bike sharing finally getting off the ground. But in some respects, bicyclists still get a raw deal. Bike riders are subject to the same traffic tickets as motorists, and yet, they are not given the same options for reducing their fines as car drivers. But all that will change next year. According to Streetsblog, Governor Jerry Brown just signed a new law that will allow bike riders who get tickets for traffic violations to attend classes on bicycle safety to reduce their fines.

Assemblymember Richard Bloom from Santa Monica introduced bill A.B. 902 back in February to address the discrepancy between options for motorists and bicyclists when dealing with an identical ticket. "When a bicyclist is ticketed for a moving violation in California, they by default receive the same monetary fine as when driving a motor vehicle. This means that with court fees added a stop sign violation can cost around $200, and running a red light around $400," said Bloom.

The plan works towards striking a balance between fairly dealing with lawbreaking bicyclists and limiting strict fines that could make bicycling less appealing as a transit option. "The penalty should be determined so as to encourage safe behavior and not so punitive that it discourages bicycling altogether, especially for low-income individuals who rely the most on bicycling for everyday transportation," said Bloom.

The next step is establishing the bike safety classes across California. In the Southland, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and the city of Long Beach are both interested in taking up the task of setting up ticket diversion programs. The classes would then have to be sanctioned by law enforcement.

Robert Prinz, Education Coordinator at Bike East Bay who helped put the bill together got in a little swipe at police saying, "for the most part law enforcement has a pretty good idea of what's important for bicycle safety, but some police departments would benefit from attending some of these classes themselves."

The bill goes into effect on January 1, 2016. —Jeff Wattenhofer

· Governor Brown Signs Law Allowing Bicycle Ticket Diversion Programs [Streetsblog]
· Los Angeles Approves Big-Time Plan to Make It Easier For Everyone to Get Around the City [Curbed LA]
· Metro Opening Fancy Bike Hubs Around Los Angeles With All Kinds of Services [Curbed LA]
· Los Angeles Bike Share Program a Go to Launch by Mid-2016 [Curbed LA]