Whether you are riding your bicycle or your encounter someone on a bicycle while driving, you are bound by the rules of the road. Although not well known, there are Pennsylvania Statutes, Ordinances, Rules and Regulations which affect bicycles.

Unfortunately, bicycles, automobiles, and pedestrians do not always peacefully co-exist on our roadways. In addition, numerous bicycle incidents are the result of dangerous and defective roads. Bicycle fatalities and tens of thousands of bicycle injuries occur each year.

Bicycle cases present difficult and unique issues. Issues such as the status of the bicycle: what rules of the road govern; right-of-way; bicycle lights; helmets; collisions with automobiles; collisions with pedestrians; and road conditions.

Pennsylvania has numerous statutes which pertain to bicycles or “pedalcycles” as they are know. The bicycle is considered a vehicle and as such is governed by the general rules common to all vehicles, as well as a specific set of rules designed for bicycles.

Did you know that bicycle riders are required to give hand/arm signals when turning?

  • For a left-hand turn, the hand and arm shall be extended horizontally;
  • For a right-hand turn, the left hand and arm shall be extended upward (the right hand and arm horizontally is also permitted);
  • To stop or decrease speed, the left hand and arm shall be extended downward.

Because a bicycle is considered a vehicle, it has a right to be on the roadway. But the law requires that vehicles proceeding at less than normal speed shall be driven in the right-hand lane. While the bicyclist must stay to the right, they are permitted to make movements consistent with their intended route.

Did You Know:

  • Bicycle riders on a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast, except on a path set aside specifically for bicycles;
  • Bicycle riders shall not carry any package which prevents them from keeping at least one hand upon the handlebars;
  • Bicycle riders must have brakes capable of stopping within 15 feet when traveling 15 m.p.h.;
  • Bicycle riders during sunrise/sunset hours shall have lights;
  • Bicycle riders under 12 years old must wear a helmet (the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation strongly recommends that all bicyclists wear approved helmets whenever they ride);
  • Bicycles are not permitted on Pennsylvania’s freeways (there are a few state designated freeways which allow bicycles).

In addition to state statutes which govern bicycle riding state-wide, there may also be local ordinances. For example, the City of Philadelphia has a series of ordinances regulating bicycle use. Because bicycle riders must comply with the rules of the road, the Pennsylvania Drivers Manual is helpful to understand your responsibility (i.e. traffic signs/stop signs/railroad crossing, etc.) The Commonwealth also publishes a bicycle driver’s manual which outlines your responsibilities.

Unfortunately, accidents involving bicycles happen every day and often times result in serious injuries.