In Pennsylvania, Title 75 contains the set of rules and laws that apply to vehicle operation. Because bicycles share the road with cars and trucks, they are considered vehicles. Thus, bicycle riders must be educated on the laws that affect their operation when on public roads.
These laws include general laws that apply to all vehicles and specific laws that apply only to bicycles. Both sets of laws are equally important to understand and obey, and while many people with Pennsylvania driver’s licenses are more likely to understand the general set of rules, they also must learn the specific set of rules for bikes.
People younger than 16 years of age or who do not possess a Pennsylvania driver’s license are less likely to be familiar with the general rules of the road and need more education or should be accompanied by a licensed driver when bicycling on public roadways.
An Overview of Pennsylvania Bicycling Laws
For a full listing and explanation of bicycling laws, you should obtain a copy of the Pennsylvania Bicycle Driver’s Manual, which is published by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
The following list of general safety rules will get you started:
- Wear a helmet. Anyone younger than 12 is required by law to wear one, but everyone should wear a helmet for safety on the road.
- Ride on the right side of the road. Bicycles are considered vehicles and ride on the same side of the road as cars, trucks and motorcycles — never against the flow of traffic.
- Obey all traffic lights, stop signs and other traffic signs as if you were driving an automobile. These signs and signals apply to bicycles.
- Bicycles are prohibited on sidewalks in business districts – unless a traffic control officer directs you otherwise – and in areas where a dedicated bicycle lane is available.
- Always give pedestrians the right of way on sidewalks or paths. Let them know you are approaching by calling out your intentions – “Passing on the left!” – or by ringing a bell or other audible device attached to your bike. Bicyclists may not use sirens as their audible devices.
- Use hand signals when turning as you would use turn signals in an automobile.
- Pedal cyclists may not ride on freeways. Bicyclists may use a freeway only if given permission by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. This process is not quick or easy and starts with submitting a written request for review of the route with evidence that no alternative exists.
Additional Safety Guidelines for Bicyclists
The following safety guidelines may not address rules of the road but are essential rules to follow to ensure your safety and the safety of those sharing the road with you:
- Wear bright clothing that helps make you visible to others on the road. Reflectors and headlights on your bicycle help other drivers see you. After sunset or before sunrise, headlights and reflectors are required.
- Do not carry more people on your bike than it was designed to carry.
- Ride in a straight line and do not make unpredictable turns or swerve into the roadway unexpectedly. One hand must be on the handlebars at all times.
- Check that your brakes can stop your bike from a speed of 15 mph within 15 feet on dry pavement. This is a law.
What can I do if I’ve had a bicycle accident?
Even the most careful bicyclists can find themselves in situations beyond their control. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, Cordisco & Saile LLC can help. Call us today to set up a consultation to discuss your case with an attorney.