Bicycle Safety Law

April 1, 2012

Riding a bicycle is opened to greater risk than a car since the bike rider’s body is exposed to danger. Every biker is responsible for his/ her own personal safety and must always be alert and focused on the conditions of the roads or trails.

The number one rule for safety is to wear a helmet which is a requirement by Pa. traffic law that all cyclists under age 12 must don an approved bicycle helmet. To ride safely, o the following: obey traffic laws mandated for the road since under Pennsylvania’s law, a bike is considered like any other road vehicles. Always use the right side of the road when you ride a bike. Follow strictly stop signs, obey red lights and never ride against the flow of traffic. Ride as if you are following a straight line and place one hand always on the handlebars. Pay attention to your path and be alert for any obstruction. When you decide to change direction, be sure not to swerve and use your hand to inform other drivers that you are negotiating a turn.

Visibility is important on the road. Make yourself visible to other drivers by wearing clothes that are bright and easily seen. You can put reflectors on wheels, front and rear of bike so it will glow in the dark to show you are around. For night riding, use a headlight plus an active red light and reflector at the back of the bike. For emergency purpose, always carry a pump, a patch kit and a spare tube. Look after yourself by carrying plenty of drinking water and snacks for energy. Don’t forget your mobile as it is your only means of contact in case of emergency.

In Pennsylvania, a bicycle is considered like any other road vehicle so you have to obey all of the laws applicable to other vehicles. However, there are also set of rules specifically for bicycles. You can only carry the number of people that the bike is designed to carry but an adult biker can carry a child placed in a secure child carrier or trailer. Depending on the speed allowable on the road, condition of the road and other safety factors, you can travel either on the shoulder or the roadway itself. If you ride slowly, keep to the right. Cyclist can use the left lane of a one-way street that has multiple lanes but not on a freeway. Packages or other items that keeps you from putting one hand steady on the bar are not allowed.

Drivers are allowed to cross the median line of the road if the opposing traffic permits other vehicle to pass safely. According to this law, drivers who are negotiating a left turn must give way to bicycle and that they must also safeguards against other operators who are putting a bicycle off when making a right turn.

Pennsylvania is aware of the growing popularity of the bicycle as a means of transportation. It is state number 19 giving out a distance minimum requirement for passing bicycles. The increasing cost of gas is the reason why more and more people are beginning to turn their interest to use their two-wheel contraption to go around. Bicycle trending might continue to increase as the price of gas becomes prohibitive.

PennDOT news release stated that bike riders must use their best efforts not to impede the normal flow of road traffic. Motorists are encouraged to respect and safely operate road traffic that is variable depending on enforcement techniques used by police.

One main concern voiced out by the Valley News Dispatch from what they learned from law enforcement agency was that motorists are not looking out for approaching traffic before passing bicyclists in order to accommodate the four-foot safety zone. Traffic authorities are depending on drivers and riders to follow traffic laws, signs and signals for the safe operation of vehicles and bikes.

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