In June 2015, Democrat State Rep. Anthony DeLuca proposed a new bill that would require bicyclists to wear reflective clothing at night. While the bill aims to protect cyclists and reduce risks of nighttime bicycle accidents, bike advocates are not keen on the idea.
What the New Bill Entails
DeLuca proposed to amend Section 3507 of Title 75 of the Pennsylvania
Consolidated Statutes. The statutes already currently mandate that cyclists have the following.
- Brakes that stop them in 15 feet from a speed of 15 m.p.h.
- Front lights
- Rear red reflectors
The new bill would add the following section to those rules. “Reflective clothing – Any person operating a pedalcycle between sunset and sunrise shall wear high-visibility safety apparel, which may include a vest, jacket, or shirt that is retroreflective.”
If the bill passes, it will take effect in 60 days. Additionally, DeLuca explains to amend the bill with a provision that would allow police to fine cyclists for violations. Bicyclists currently have the option to take certain safety measures while riding at night, such as using reflective tape.
“Some of the roads where I represent are narrow. It only takes a minute for someone to lose control, maybe the bicyclists or the motorist, and you got a tragedy. So if we can make it safer, and more people are going to be biking, then we oughta do that,” DeLuca said, according to News Works.
Bike Advocate Concerns
Those against the proposal, House Bill No. 1361, have publically expressed concerns that mandating cyclists to don more gear would be burdensome and ultimately discourage them from biking. They say that rather than slapping extra requirements on cyclists, all road users would be better served by instead focusing on better infrastructure, such as larger bike lanes or a separating median between bicycles and motor vehicles.
Spokesman for The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia Randy Lobasso said: “If people are forced to wear something while they are riding a bike, they are less likely to ride a bike, and it essentially deters people from doing so.”
Scott Bricker, head of Bike Pittsburgh, echoed the concerns in his open letter to DeLuca and the Majority and Minority House Transportation Committee Representatives. “Criminalizing the wearing of regular clothing while riding a bicycle is unacceptable, and if this bill becomes law it’s our grave concern that people who walk will next be forced to don reflective clothing just to take a leisurely stroll in the evening. If the bright front and rear lights/reflectors are not enough, then we also need to look into the operation at night of motorcycles and black-painted automobile,” he wrote.
The bill is currently up for review by the Transportation Committee. For more news of interest to Pennsylvania cyclists, visit the Cordisco & Saile LLC bicycle accident blog.