Pennsylvania Bicycling Laws

Bicycle

The flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping, and the brutal winter weather is finally leaving. The warm weather encourages people to take advantage of outdoor activities like riding their bikes. Bicycle riding is a popular form of recreation and transportation among all ages, yet related injuries may cause significant injuries or even death. The most serious injuries and fatalities result from collisions with motor vehicles.

Recent Pennsylvania Bike Crash

An 18-year-old man is in critical condition after being struck by a motorist who fled the scene in Delaware County. Police say the teenage victim was either riding his bicycle or walking it across an intersection when he was struck. The victim was not wearing a helmet and suffered head injuries and a broken leg.

NOTE: ABC News reports the victim was struck by a gray or silver pickup, and police are looking for the vehicle. Anyone with information about the incident or the motorist is asked to call Ridley Park Police at (610) 362 – 7401.

The American Academy of Family Physicians reports that bicycle accidents account for approximately 900 deaths; 23,000 hospital admissions; 580,000 emergency department visits; and more than 1.2 million physician visits per year in the United States. Approximately 4.4 million children aged five to 17 years were injured annually because of participation in sports and recreation; bicycle-related injuries were responsible for up to 40% of these injuries. Important risk factors for bicycle-related injuries include not wearing a helmet, crashes involving motor vehicles, and unsafe riding environments.

In Pennsylvania, a bicycle is considered a vehicle and, as such, is governed by Title 75 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statute, which contains the laws that govern the operation of vehicles on Pennsylvania roads. The law provides things a bicyclist is required to do, but not how to do it. Since bicycles are considered vehicles, under PA Law they must obey all the rules of the road that apply to vehicles. Any person violating the law can be found guilty and subject to a penalty.

Safe bicycling requires the ability to process information about traffic conditions on a continuous basis, as you ride along, just as when driving an automobile. In order to promote safe bicycling, we have provided summations of some of the important sections of the PA Code below:

  • A bicycle may be operated on the shoulder of a roadway, so long as it is operated in the same direction as required by vehicles. Bikes cannot be operated on a freeway;

  • Bicycles may ride in the left lane near the curb or edge of a one-way street that contains two or more lanes. Bicyclist shall exercise due care when passing a standing vehicle;

  • Use appropriate hand signals, including:

    • For a left turn, the hand and arm shall be extended horizontally.

    • For a right turn, the left hand and arm shall be extended upward, except operators of motorcycles and pedalcycles, who may also be permitted to signal a right turn by extending the right hand and arm horizontally.

    • To stop or decrease speed, the left hand and arm shall be extended downward.

  • Any person under the age of 12 must wear a helmet;

  • Any bicycle in use between sunset and sunrise must be equipped with a front lamp

If you or a loved one has been injured in an bicycle accident, contact our experienced Pennsylvania bicycle accident attorneys to secure the best outcome in your case. Contact our office at (215) 481 – 9979 for a confidential consultation to discuss your case.

Photo Credit: Bev Goodwin via Compfight cc