Bicycle rider at fault in accident with pedestrian?

Bicycle riders must follow the same rules of the road as motor vehicles that includes riding on the street rather than the sidewalk. But in Pennsylvania, bicyclists may ride on the sidewalk. Like all vehicle laws, the pedestrian always has the right of way! Pedestrians that are most likely to suffer an accident while walking are senior citizens.

According to 75 PA Cons Stat § 3508.

(a) Right-of-way to pedestrians – A person riding a pedalcycle upon a sidewalk or pedalcycle path used by pedestrians shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian.

(b) Business districts – A person shall not ride a pedalcycle upon a sidewalk in a business district unless permitted by official traffic-control devices, nor when a usable pedalcycle-only lane has been provided adjacent to the sidewalk.”

Pennsylvania Bike Laws

Other previously established Pennsylvania traffic laws govern the operation of bicycles under all other conditions.

  • All cyclists under the age of 12, including passengers, must wear an approved bike helmet.
  • A bike can have only the number of people it was designed to carry.  The exception is an adult can take a child in a secure child carrier or trailer.
  • At least one hand must be on the handlebars at all times.
  • Between sunset and sunrise, a front lamp and rear and side reflectors are required. These reflectors must be visible from a distance of at least 500 feet.
  • Bikes must have satisfactory brakes that can stop within 15 feet if they are riding at 15 MPH on a level, dry surface.
  • No bicycles on freeways without permission from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

The above laws can be taken into account when establishing liability for a pedestrian accident. So if a bike rider is negligent in observing them, they will probably be held liable for any injuries and other damages to the victim pedestrian. However, since there are no bike speed limits, the legal term of “reasonableness” applies to any situation involving an accident between a cyclist and a pedestrian.

Bike riders can avoid being accused of negligence if they observe the following bike riding “best practices” when riding on a sidewalk:

  • Be aware of your surroundings (this goes for pedestrians as well)
  • Ride slowly
  • Keep your eyes moving to check crosswalks, driveways and building entrances/exits you encounter

Reasonable Conduct Restrictions

Of course, pedestrians are also subject to the same “reasonableness of conduct” as cyclists. For example, a person is walking out of a downtown store and fails to look both ways before being hit by a bike messenger who is riding responsibly, the chances of receiving full damage compensation might not be as good as if he or she had first looked, then was hit by a bike rider who was zipping along at a higher than acceptable speed.

For any pedestrian and cyclist accident questions in Pennsylvania, call personal injury lawyer Cordisco & Saile LLC: (215) 642-2335 or fill out the contact form.