Less than a week after Kenyan-born Briton Chris Froome won the Tour de France, everybody wants to ride a bike – in a yellow jersey, no doubt. On the road in NEPA, it seems that colorful cyclists are part of the scenery. If you look really hard you might even spot an occasional lawyer, like Powell Law’s Mark Powell, who has a passion for cycling.
Then there are the environmentalists who are concerned about air pollution and those who ride to save money on gas. No matter what the reason for riding a bike – sport, fun or necessity – safety should always come first, and that starts with knowing the law.
A bicycle is considered a vehicle in Pennsylvania. Consequently, cyclists are responsible for knowing and obeying all laws that apply to other vehicles. Additionally, there are specific laws that apply to bicycles. If you violate these laws you are at greater risk of a crash and will most likely be held responsible in the event of an accident.
In general, there can’t be more people on the bike than it designed to carry, except in the case of a child being transported in a secure child carrier or trailer. Don’t carry packages or other items that prevent you from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars. Cyclists may use the shoulder or roadway itself. Slower vehicles should keep to the right, although cyclists may ride in the left lane of a one-way street with multiple lanes. Bicycles are not permitted on freeways in Pennsylvania without permission of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
Bicycles used between sunset and sunrise must have a front lamp, rear and side reflectors visible from at least 500 feet. Brakes must stop the bike 15 feet from an initial speed of 15 mph on dry, level pavement.
Remember that pedestrians have the right-of-way on sidewalks and bicycle paths. If you are on your bike you must give an audible signal as you approach and pass a pedestrian. Riding a bicycle on sidewalks in business districts are off limits, except where allowed by official traffic control devices or where there is a bicycle-only lane available. You can park your bicycle on a sidewalk if it does not interfere with pedestrian traffic or at the curb or edge of the roadway where parking is allowed as long as it does not obstruct other vehicles.
Helmets are required for anyone under age 12 riding a bike, including passengers in an attached carrier or trailer.
Standard vehicle laws apply for traffic signals. However, if a traffic signal does not detect your bicycle, you may consider the red signal as a stop sign and proceed through the intersection after yielding to all intersecting traffic.
The following hand-and-arm signals should be used:
• To signal a left turn, extend the left hand and arm horizontally.
• To signal a right turn, extend the right hand and arm horizontally, or extend your left hand and arm upward.
• To signal a stop or decrease in speed, extend the left hand and arm downward.
A little caution goes a long way toward preventing a tragedy. Now that you know the rules, it’s time to enjoy the ride!
Since 1906, our PA personal injury lawyers have successfully represented thousands of clients in serious personal injury cases, including PA car accidents, tractor trailer accidents, motorcycle accidents, PA medical malpractice, PA worker’s comp, slip and fall, product-related injuries and Social Security disability claims. Our PA criminal defense attorneys represent defendants in all types of summary, misdemeanor and felony cases ranging from drunk driving cases to major crimes in both state and federal courts.
Powell Law is Northeastern Pennsylvania’s oldest PA personal injury law firm. It was established by our grandfather, Attorney James J. Powell Sr., on the principles of honor, integrity and trust. For three generations, we have upheld those principles every day – in every case.