Whether you commute to work by bike or just like to ride around a bit on the weekend, biking is a great, affordable way to way to fit some exercise into your day and to go green. If you are into biking, though, know the rules of the road in Pennsylvania. These laws are in place for one reason—to help keep everyone safer. Since bicycle accidents are among the deadliest on our roads, put safety first every time you head out on your bike.
The Statistics and Risk Factors
Bicycling can put lives at risk. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that, while bikes account for only about 1 percent of all traffic in the United States, bicyclists are much more likely suffer injuries or death in an accident than motorists. Furthermore, the CDC reports the following significant risks associated with bike accidents:
- Cyclists between the ages of 50 and 59 are at the greatest risk of dying in a bike accident.
- Children and youth between five and 19 are most likely to suffer injuries in bike accidents, and these accidents account for more than one-third of the bike–accident injuries seen in emergency rooms.
- The injury and death risk factor for males in bike accidents is far greater than for females.
- Most bike-accident fatalities take place in urban areas—like Philadelphia—and away from intersections.
- Alcohol consumption—by either the bicyclist or the motorist—is involved in 37 percent of bike-accident fatalities.
- Bike accidents are exceedingly dangerous. Always make safety your top priority.
If a bike accident injured you, you need an experienced Philadelphia bike accident attorney. The skilled legal team at The Levin Firm has the experience, knowledge, and dedication to guide your bike accident claim toward its most positive resolution, and we’re here to help.
Pennsylvania’s Bike Laws
Pennsylvania grants bike riders the same rights and responsibilities as motorists—with a few exceptions:
- You may ride your bike on the road’s shoulder—in the same direction as traffic’s flow—but you aren’t required to do so.
- You may also ride your bike in the right lane—just like a car—which means that you can ride in the right-most travel lane on a multilane road, in the right lane on a two-lane road, and on the right side of the road on a roadway with no center line. Remember that it’s safest to stay in the center of your lane (just as it is for motorists).
- You may move your bike out of the right-most lane when you overtake another vehicle that’s moving in the same direction, when you’re preparing to make a left turn, and when there’s an obstacle in your lane that necessitates a lane change (or a crossing of the center line), which you must undertake with due care.
Unless the roadway is set aside for bicyclists’ exclusive use, bikes may not ride more than two abreast (side-by-side).
- Both bicyclists and motorists may—with appropriate caution—react to an inoperable or malfunctioning intersection light as a stop condition (if red) and as a caution condition (if yellow or green). Traffic signals with embedded detectors may not recognize you on your bike, and the law treats this as an inoperable traffic signal.
- Motorists must allow at least four feet of distance from bicyclists and must use careful and prudent speed in so doing. The motorist bears responsibility for maintaining this space between the car and the bike.
- To avoid excessive delays, a motorist may overtake a bike in a no-passing zone but must do so with due care and must allow the required clearance of four feet.
- No motorist (or passenger) shall open any of the vehicle’s doors unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so and unless and until it doesn’t interfere with the flow of traffic. Bicyclists are often seriously injured or killed in “dooring” accidents (when a vehicle’s door opens into the cyclist’s line of travel). When you ride beside parked vehicles, keep four feet between your bike and the parked cars.
Exercise prudence when you share a roadway with much larger and faster vehicles. Lane control will help keep you safe out there. As a bicyclist, it’s your right to travel on either the shoulder or in the center of the right lane, and you protect your own safety when you confidently assert these rights—you’re most visible when you are in the center of your lane. Furthermore, when you’re on your bike, ride predictably—just as you would behind the wheel of your car. Finally, the law requires motor vehicles to fully change lanes when they overtake you on your bike—you aren’t required to move over so they can pass.
If you ride between sundown and sunup, Pennsylvania requires that you equip your bike with a front lamp and with reflectors on its rear and side—all visible from at least 500 feet. This will help motorists see you and illuminate your path. In addition, you must install good working brakes on your bike. Finally, everyone younger than 12 must wear a helmet whenever they ride or are a passenger on a bike (including riding in an attached child seat or trailer). While it’s not a law, Pennsylvania strongly encourages all bicyclists to don a helmet every time they ride.
If You Were Injured in a Bike Accident, Consult an Experienced Philadelphia Bike Accident Lawyer
Bike accidents are dangerous, and if you were injured in a bike accident that another driver’s negligence caused, you need a skilled bike accident attorney. At The Levin Firm in Philadelphia, we’re committed to helping you obtain the compensation to which you’re entitled. We’re here to help, so please contact or call us at (215) 825-5183 today.