Passing laws: Pennsylvania requires that in the event a motor vehicle passes a bicycle it shall leave a safe distance, not less than 4 feet, when passing the bicycle.
Helmet law: Pennsylvania requires the operator or passenger of a bicycle under the age of 12 to wear a helmet. However, the failure to do so shall not be considered contributory negligence and will not be admissible in a trial of any civil action.
Laws to Protect the Bicyclist: Pennsylvania has not enacted any Vulnerable User Laws.
Distracted Driving Laws: As almost every bicyclist knows, distracted driving creates one of the most dangerous risks to a bicycle on a public road way. Every state has varying laws to attempt to reduce the amount of distracted driving that exists. Nonetheless, it still presents a serious problem.
In Pennsylvania no driver shall operate a motor vehicle on a roadway while using an interactive wireless communications device to send, read or write text based communication while the vehicle is in motion.
Lane Position Laws for a Bicyclist: Generally speaking, Pennsylvania law requires bicyclists to be as close to the right hand edge of the road as possible. However there are some important exceptions that I will outline below:
- When passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction; and
- When preparing to take a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
This requirement does not apply to:
- A bicycle using any portion of an available roadway due to unsafe surface conditions; and
- A bicycle using a roadway that has the width of not more than one lane of traffic in each direction.
Sidewalk Riding: The general rule in Pennsylvania is that you are permitted to ride on sidewalks. However, there are certain rules and exceptions that must be followed. So you may ride on a sidewalk subject to the following:
- You must yield the right of way to any pedestrian and shall give audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian;
- You are not allowed to ride on the sidewalk or crosswalk in a business district unless permitted by official traffic-control devices or when a usable bicycle only lane is available adjacent to the sidewalk.
It is important to note that Pennsylvania does not require bicyclists use any lane or path other than a normal vehicular traffic lane. So if there is a sidewalk, the choice of road or sidewalk is yours to make.
Riding a Bike under the Influence: In Pennsylvania , bicycles are defined as vehicles. Pennsylvania ‘s law prohibiting driving while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances is written so that it applies to vehicles and therefore applys to bicyclists. Riding a bicycle under the influence is not only very unsafe it may also result in severe punishment and fines.
Stop Sign Laws: In Pennsylvania bicycles that come to a red light that does not detect bicycles may proceed through a red light. It is important to stop first and wait a reasonable amount of time to determine if the light will detect you.
Important Resource and Link