OHIO RIVER TRAIL COUNCIL

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PA Safe Bicycle Passing Law

PA Safe Bicycle Passing Law

An Act amending Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in order to improve safety for bicyclists on Pennsylvania roads. Establishes new rules for motorists to follow when they encounter a bicyclist. Further providing for driving on right side of roadway, for overtaking vehicle on the left, for no-passing zones, for required position and method of turning and for minimum speed regulation.

HB 170 amends PA’s motor vehicle code to provide the following protections:

  1. Every car that passes a bike must give a minimum of 4-feet of clearance at a “prudent reduced speed”
  2. No turn by a motorist may interfere with a bicycle proceeding straight (the classic right hook)
  3. Bicycles may be operated at a safe and reasonable speed appropriate for bicycles
  4. Bicycles must be operated in the right hand lane, or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of roadway.
  5. This does not apply to a bicycle using any portion of the road due to unsafe surface conditions.

Driver Laws

  • Forcing a bicyclist off the road is a criminal offense.
  • It is not against the law to cross the double yellow line into the opposing line in order to give a cyclist the required 4 feet clearance. You may not cross the line if there is oncoming traffic though. In that case, wait until it is safe to pass.
  • Cutting a bicyclist off by turning right is illegal. 

Driver Tips

  • Avoid sounding a horn close to cyclists as it can startle them and cause an accident.
  • Slow down when approaching and passing a bicycle.
  • Never make sudden stops after passing a bicyclist, as car brakes are more powerful than those of bicycles.
  • Motorists must be aware of making any kind of turn that would interfere with a bicyclist.
  • Exercise caution when opening your car door along bike routes.

Cyclist Laws

  • Obey all traffic laws.
  • Only two bicyclists may ride side-by-side at a time, with the exception being on paths specifically for bikes.
  • If riding between sunset and sunrise, the bike needs to have a lamp in its front, a red reflector on the rear and an amber reflector on each side. All lights and reflectors must be visible from at least 500 feet.
  • It is only illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk when in a business district. In the event of encountering a pedestrian in one's path, the cyclist must make an audible signal before overtaking and passing them.
  • All children Helmets under 12 years old must wear a helmet. Those children in contempt of the law may be forced to pay a fine of no more than $25.
  • Bicyclists travelling slower than the flow of traffic should make all reasonable efforts not to impede vehicle traffic.
  • Cyclists must signal their intention to drivers. Hand signals are as follows:
  1. Left hand and arm extended in straight line: left turn
  2. Left hand perpendicular to shoulder: right turn
  3. Right hand and arm  extended in straight line: right turn
  4. Left arm extended downward: decrease speed or stop.

Cyclist Tips

  • Use reflectors, reflective tape, or similar devices on cycling shoes, fenders, belts, frames, pedals and handlebars.
  • Keep to the right. Ride with traffic, not against it. By law, a bicycle is a vehicle and must obey traffic laws.
  • Ride defensively.
  • Use bike paths or bike lanes whenever possible.
  • Walk your bicycle across busy intersections.
  • Never race on public space.
  • Avoid riding in bad weather.
  • Avoid riding on trolley tracks.
  • Perform regular maintenance checks on your bicycle.

“One of the main highlights is it basically requires motorists to give a bicyclist basically a four-foot swath of safety around them. [However,] in doing this, it also allows motorists to pass bicyclists, allowing for that four-foot safety distance, even if it’s in an area that would say ‘no passing’. It allows you to cross the double yellow line, if you can safely do so.”  —Steve Chizmar, PennDOT

The ultimate goal is to have both the vehicle drivers and bike riders realize they need to share the road.

 

 

 

 

Event Photos

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