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Three pedestrian-focused State Senate bills move forward

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This year’s California legislative session includes three bills that would help make streets safer for everyone who walks: SB 960, SB 961, and SB 1509. Last week, all three made it out of the State Senate! Walk SF is supporting all these bills, and is an official co-sponsor of SB 960 and SB 961.

SB 960: Holding Caltrans accountable in building ‘Complete Streets’

For decades, California’s Department of Transportation has underfunded and neglected pedestrian facilities in favor of disruptive highway expansions and high-speed surface roads.

SB 960 would hold our state transportation department, Caltrans, accountable for designing its surface roads to be ‘Complete Streets’ for the most vulnerable users: people walking, biking, and taking transit. ‘Complete Streets’ elements include accessibility features, better sidewalks and crosswalks, street trees, and lighting.

Top-down graphic of two streets, one with complete streets improvements and one without.

Cities all over the state including San Francisco have Caltrans roads running through neighborhoods. Here in San Francisco, Park Presidio, Lombard Street, 19th Avenue, Skyline Boulevard, Van Ness Avenue, Sloat Boulevard, and San Jose Avenue are overseen by Caltrans. These are all designated high-injury streets because of crash rates and have long-needed safer designs.

SB 961: A bold bill to reduce speeding

Last week, we shared the fantastic news that Senator Scott Wiener’s SB 961 passed out of the Senate in a 23-13 vote. This landmark bill would reduce vehicle speeds by requiring manufacturers to install passive ‘Intelligent Speed Assistance’ in all cars and trucks manufactured or sold in California (except emergency vehicles) starting in 2027.

SB 1509: Increasing penalties for chronic speeders

Speeding is the #1 cause of severe and fatal crashes in San Francisco and California, and the fact is that drivers often don’t recognize or respect this reality.

Currently, there aren’t any specifications in state law on how fast is too fast when it comes to dangerous speeding.

The Negligent Operator Treatment (NOT) in California Act, or SB 1509 will specify that driving more than 26 miles per hour over the speed limit on highways with a speed limit of less than 55 miles per hour is reckless driving, resulting in two violation points on a driver’s record.

This means more drivers who endanger our communities by speeding will face greater consequences.

What’s next for getting these safe streets bills to become law

Making it out of the Senate is big. But there are many more Committees and votes that these bills face. And the clock is ticking – all these bills must make it out of the Assembly by August 31, and some bills may never even get to the floor of the Assembly for a full vote.

That’s why we need to be sure Assemblymembers understand these bills and know people are paying attention to how they’ll vote on them.

With your support, Walk SF will go to the State Capitol, bring the stories of people who have been affected by traffic crashes to Assemblymembers, work to get media attention, and organize the support of people like you at key moments. All these bills must make it out of the Assembly by August 31 – but many Committee hearings will happen in June!

Banner image: Emily Huston

Graphic with two speaker icons and the text "Great News! S.B. 961 just passed the State Senate"Photo of hikers walking in front of Sutro Towers.