Senator Portantino Introduces Bill to Improve Pedestrian & Cyclist Safety

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

State Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D – Burbank) introduced Senate Bill 932, a strong measure to prioritize pedestrian and cyclist safety by requiring California cities to take concrete steps to reduce traffic collisions and fatalities.  Though only introduced today, the measure has garnered an impressive list of supporters.  SB 932 is sponsored by Streets For All, ActiveSGV, Calbike, and Streets Are For Everyone.   Recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documenting a nearly 20% increase in traffic fatalities in the first six months of 2021 highlights the need for the bill.

“There is no denying it, California needs safer streets.  And, despite efforts during the last several decades to make our streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists, many of our streets have grown more dangerous in recent years,” stated Senator Portantino.  “Data driven plans to remedy this serious problem are necessary to save lives and encourage more people to walk and bike to their destinations. An annual grant program to cities for implementing effective ways to mitigate injuries and fatalities are a good step forward and will yield positive change for our communities.”

Though California has been part of a national trend to create safer streets, many cities lack data on how to address traffic violence, deaths caused by accident, serious injuries to pedestrians, cyclists, and other human-powered-transit users.  In certain cities where the most dangerous streets and corridors have been identified, no plans exist to remedy these deadly situations.  Even in cities that have developed safety plans, meaningful changes that would actually save lives have yet to be implemented.

“In California, the general plans of cities have often been very car centric when it comes to their street network,” said Michael Schneider, Founder of Streets For All. “That all changes today, with Senator Portantino’s critical bill that would integrate multi-modal thinking into the planning process, helping make our streets safer for all modes and fight climate change.”

SB 932 requires a county or city to include a map of the high injury network in its General Plan and would further require a county or city to identify and prioritize safety improvements within 15 years that would address serious and injurious traffic collisions. The bill would increase or decrease the 15-year implementation period, based on whether the measures introduced by a county or city achieve results to reduce percentages of traffic violence. 

SB 932 creates an annual grant program to award funding to cities and counties that implement timely and effective short-term efforts to mitigate bicycle, pedestrian, and other human-powered transportation injuries and fatalities. 

Senator Portantino is a former Mayor and Councilmember who worked for safer streets while in local government.  SB 932 continues those efforts but with an even more personal story.  Like many Californians, he used the isolation of the pandemic to improve his own health.  Over the past 16 months he has become an avid and almost daily bike rider both in Sacramento and across the 25th State Senate District.

“Every day I’m on my bike, I learn more about the communities I represent and the areas of good bike safety and those that are not.  In fact, the intersection directly in front of my house is one of the most dangerous I traverse.  It has been a tremendous benefit for me as a policy maker to reach out to the biking community to share my story and to collaborate on this important public safety and environmental effort,” concluded Senator Portantino.

    BurCal Apartments8715