Pennsylvania’s new bike safety law to take effect April 2

PennDOT announced that the law that sets new rules for Pennsylvania motorists to follow when encountering a bicyclist will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, April 2. Governor Tom Corbett signed the law, designed to improve safety and traffic flow, on February 2, 2012.

The new law requires motorists to leave a 4-foot “cushion of safety” when passing a bicyclist. To achieve this cushion, drivers may cross a roadway’s center-line when passing a bicycle on the left, but only when opposing traffic allows. Drivers attempting to turn left must also yield the right of way to bicycle riders traveling in the opposite direction.

“The differential in speed is the biggest safety challenge with motor vehicles and bicycles sharing our state’s roadways,” said PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch. “I urge all drivers and cyclists to learn the rules of the road to better share our highways and make travel safer for all.”

The new law also calls for bicycle riders to use all reasonable efforts to avoid impeding the normal flow of traffic. When there is only one travel lane, bicyclists may use any portion of the lane to avoid hazards on the roadway, including maintaining a safe distance from stopped and parked cars.

As always, bicyclists and motorists should obey all traffic signs and signals. PennDOT also recommends bicyclists always ride predictably and signal their intentions before proceeding so that motorists have a chance to react.

Bicycle Laws

1. Before passing, you must first assess if you can maneuver around the bicyclist. Be sure to check for oncoming traffic. Important! When passing, you must allow at least four feet between your vehicle and a bicycle for the vehicle to safely pass the bicycle. When safe to do so, it is legal to cross the center double yellow line if necessary to provide the required four feet when passing a bicycle.

2. Unless making a Left turn, bicyclists traveling at less than normal speed must keep to the right side of the roadway when there is more than one lane marked for travel in that direction, and must travel in the same direction as the rest of traffic. Bicyclists may keep to the left on ONE WAY roadways.

3. When there is only one travel lane, bicyclists may use any portion of the lane to avoid hazards on the roadway, including a safe distance from stopped and parked cars.

4. No turn by the driver of a motor vehicle shall interfere with a bicyclist proceeding straight on a roadway or shoulder.

5. It is illegal to force a bicyclist off of the road. If you do this, you may face criminal charges.

6. While bicyclists are vehicle operators and are expected to obey all traffic laws, they may travel at less than the posted minimum speed and may not be cited for impeding traffic. Bicyclists may operate on a shoulder or berm, but are not required to do so.

Safety Tips

1. When approaching or passing a bicycle, slow down to a safe and prudent speed.

2. After you have passed a bicyclist, do not slow down or stop quickly. Vehicle brakes are more powerful than a bicycle’s, and you could be responsible for causing a crash.

3. Do not sound your horn close to bicyclists, unless you must do so to avoid a crash.

For more information about bicycle riding in Pennsylvania, click here: PA Commutes.


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