Pennsylvania Laws that Help Prevent Bicycle Accidents
A bicycle is no match for a two-ton motor vehicle in the event of a collision. A split-second, poor decision on the road can kill a bike rider or cause catastrophic injuries, and it happens too often in Pennsylvania. Sadly, more than 1,200 bicycle accidents occurred in the state in 2015 alone.
Bicycles are considered vehicles in the State of Pennsylvania, and bike riders therefore have all the rights and duties of a driver of a vehicle—except for inapplicable rules and special regulations specific to bicycles. Pennsylvania has numerous bike-specific laws in place to prevent bicycle accidents and protect the safety of riders. When driving and riding in the state, all motorists and bike riders should know the following rules, which have been compiled by the League of American Bicyclists.
Safe Passing: Motor vehicle drivers who are about to overtake a bicycle moving in the same direction must pass to the left of the bicycle and provide at least four feet of space at a careful speed.
Helmets: Any person under age 12 riding a bicycle must wear a bicycle helmet. However, failure to wear a required helmet cannot be used as evidence or be considered contributory negligence in a civil action.
Distracted Driving: No driver may use a mobile device to send, read, or write a text-based communication while operating a motor vehicle. Click here for more information about Pennsylvania distracted driving laws.
Bike Traveling: Bicyclists traveling slower than the speed of traffic must ride in the right-hand lane available for traffic, or as close as possible to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, except:
- When passing another vehicle moving in the same direction, or
- When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into an alley, private road, or driveway.
This requirement does not apply to:
- A bicycle riding on available road to avoid unsafe conditions, or
- A bicycle using a road with a width of less than one lane of traffic in each direction.
Cyclists may ride on sidewalks under the following rules:
- Riders must yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and give an audible signal before passing a pedestrian.
- Cyclists may not ride on sidewalks in a business district when a usable bicycle-only lane is available adjacent to the sidewalk, unless permitted by official traffic-control devices.
Bicyclists do not have to use any lane or path besides n a normal vehicular traffic lane.
Laws Regarding Cycling Under the Influence: Like in any vehicle, Pennsylvania law prohibits driving while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances.
Red Light Rules: According to Pennsylvania Bicycle Driver’s Manual, a cyclist that is not detected by a traffic light may legally proceed through a red light.
Opening Doors: No person may open a door of a motor vehicle until it is reasonably safe to do so and will not interfere with traffic movement. No person may leave open a vehicle door that faces moving traffic for a longer amount of time than needed to load or unload passengers.
Bicycle Accidents in Pennsylvania: When Negligence Leads to Death and Injuries
Severe physical harm is often the result of bicycle accidents when a motor vehicle is involved. Motorists who fail to act diligently to protect riders an/or fail to follow state law could get someone killed or seriously hurt. For decades, our attorneys have acted as the voice in court for injured bicyclists and the families of those who died in bicycle accidents. We’ve seen the devastating effects of negligence on the roads, and our firm continues to obtain justice for those who were harmed by motorists’ careless decisions.
If you or a loved one was hurt in a bicycle collision, we can help. Contact our firm today to schedule a consultation.