Riding a bike in Pennsylvania should not put your life at risk. Unfortunately, getting into a serious bicycle accident is always a possibility due to reckless and careless drivers sharing the road with you. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, there were 819 bicycle accidents reported in 2020, with 22 fatalities. While you may not always be able to prevent an accident caused by a dangerous driver, you can reduce your crash risk by following these bicycle safety laws in Pennsylvania.
Do Bicyclists Have to Follow the Same Traffic Laws as Motorists?
For the most part, bicyclists have to obey the same traffic laws and roadway rules as standard motor vehicle operators. Bicycles are classified as vehicles under Pennsylvania law. They must obey all street signs and traffic control devices, including coming to a complete stop at a red light or stop sign, and ride in the same direction as traffic. They must also obey right-of-way laws, passing laws, turn signal requirements and other applicable traffic laws.
Can You Ride a Bicycle on a Sidewalk in Pennsylvania?
The answer depends on where you are biking. In most downtown areas and business districts, riding a bicycle on a sidewalk is prohibited. In other areas, however, sidewalk riding may be allowed. If you can ride on a sidewalk, you must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and give an audible signal before passing. It is also important to note that Pennsylvania law does not require motorists to yield to bicyclists who are crossing at a crosswalk. For this reason, you should always walk your bike across.
Can a Cyclist Take Up a Whole Lane?
Yes, although it is recommended for safety reasons to keep a bicycle as far to the right-hand side of the road as possible, except when turning left or riding on a one-way street. This is because bicycles cannot travel as fast as motor vehicles, so keeping to the right allows faster vehicles to pass without putting the cyclist in harm’s way. Two cyclists can also ride abreast of one another in a single lane, but a biker cannot share a lane with a motor vehicle.
Can a Bicyclist Lane-Split in Pennsylvania?
No. Lane-splitting is illegal in Pennsylvania and can be highly dangerous for bicyclists. Lane-splitting refers to bicyclists or motorcyclists riding on the line between two lanes of traffic moving in the same direction. It is often viewed as a way to avoid traffic by not waiting in line with other vehicles. However, it is against the law in Pennsylvania and can endanger a bicyclist, as a motor vehicle driver may not be expecting the bike to be there and may cause a sideswipe accident.
Do Bicyclists Have to Wear Helmets in Pennsylvania?
Bicyclists over the age of 12 do not legally have to wear helmets in Pennsylvania. However, it is strongly encouraged. Our experienced team of Pittsburgh bicycle accident attorneys know that wearing a helmet can mean the difference between life or death in a bicycle accident. Helmets drastically reduce the risk of serious and fatal brain injuries being suffered by bicyclists in accidents.
What Equipment Must a Bike Have in Pennsylvania?
All bicycles in Pennsylvania must have a braking system that can stop the bicycle in 15 feet from an initial speed of 15 mph on dry pavement. If a bicycle is used between sunset and sunrise, it must also have a front lamp that emits a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet. There must also be a rear red reflector that is visible from at least 500 feet to the rear of the bike. Finally, amber reflectors must be on each side of the bike. Although this is not a legal requirement, cyclists should also consider installing a horn, bell or another device for audible signaling.
Injured in a Bicycle Accident in Pennsylvania? We Can Help
Even if you obey traffic laws, follow safety rules and are constantly vigilant on your bicycle, you may still become the victim of an accident. If you have recently been injured in a bicycle accident in Pittsburgh, contact an attorney at Dallas W. Hartman, P.C., to request a free case consultation. Working with our Pittsburgh personal injury attorney can help you find out if you may be entitled to financial compensation from the at-fault driver.