It is worthwhile to know that, under Pennsylvania law, a bicycle is considered a vehicle and that the use of a bicycle is governed by a certain set of rules. Even though the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code deals with motor vehicles, these laws nevertheless affect all forms of transportation on Pennsylvania roadways.
As a bicyclist riding on the road with motor traffic, Pennsylvania law requires that pedalcycle riders:
- Signal turns with the arms, preferably using the left arm: extended horizontally for left turns and upward for right turns (you can also extend your right arm horizontally for right turns). To slow or stop, extend the left arm downward [palm open to the car(s) behind you helps].
- Obey all traffic laws applicable to cars while on the roadway, including riding with the flow of traffic (i.e., on the right side of the road) and heeding traffic signals and stop signs.
- When riding more slowly than traffic flow, ride as far to the right-hand side of the road as possible. (Stick closer to the curb if you can, but be wary of obstructions.)
- Ride “upon or astride” a seat attached to the bicycle.
- Have at least one hand on the handlebars.
- Have equipped reflectors and a head-light for visibility in sunset-sunrise bicycling.*
- Ensure that their pedalcycles have sufficient braking capabilities.
- Do not ride on freeways (unless you obtain permission from the Department of Transportation).
The everyday rider, whether urban or suburban, should be familiar with the pertinent laws that apply to bicycle safety. Many crashes involving bikes and cars happen at night, so make sure to check the specifications listed on the website below under 75 Pa. C.S.A. Section 3507(a) and increase your visibility. Helmets, though not required to be worn by adults under Pennsylvania law, are certainly one of the most important forms of protection a bicyclist can utilize. Still, children under age 12 must wear helmets under Pennsylvania’s Bicycle Helmet Law (you can read specifics on biking gear here).
*To see a full version of Pennsylvania’s Bicycle Laws, visit: Pennsylvania DOT Bicycle Laws.
For more information on bicycle safety and bicycle accidents, see the other articles on this website. Articles like “Bicycle Accidents in Philadelphia–Know How to Avoid Collisions Between Bikes and Cars,” and “Five Important Ways You Can Avoid a Bicycle Accident” will certainly to keep you and your loved ones safe when you take your bike on the road.
Stuart A. Carpey, who has been practicing as an attorney since 1987, focuses his practice on complex civil litigation which includes representing injured individuals in a vast array of personal injury cases.