Bike Riders Stay Safe & Know the Laws
A friend on Facebook just posted this extraordinary video of a bicyclist being hit by a car. Fortunately, the rider just suffered from some bruises, and is otherwise fine.
Watch for Bikes – Especially in Nice Weather
As we Pennsylvania folks enter into a time of beautiful, and cool fall weather, it is important to remember, there are a lot of people on bikes out there. Among those people are children, who are even harder to see than adults. Children often don’t know the rules of the road, and can end up by your car when they shouldn’t be there. Even if the child is technically at fault due to some reckless action, if you hurt or even kill that child, that technical fault isn’t going to make you feel better.
The main thing for drivers to keep in mind is that bikes can be right next to you, as happened in the case of the video here, and you might hit a rider if you don’t watch carefully. Please be careful, watch out for bikes, and don’t end up in a car accident with one. A bicyclist can be seriously injured in any collision with a car.
Cyclists – Stay Visible
Bicyclist should do what they can to be more visible to drivers. They should wear bright clothing, use hand signals, and place reflectors and headlights on their bikes. Though the law in Pennsylvania does not require adults to wear helmets, it is always best to do so for your safety.
Be especially careful when you are next to a car that might be turning, as in the video. It is easy for a driver to fail to see you. Also, watch out for drivers who are pulling out to turn onto a street. They may not see you if you are on a sidewalk or close to the right side of the road.
Bike Laws in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania
There are bike laws for Pennsylvania, but there are also specific laws for various cities and counties, such as Philadelphia that are more strict. You must follow the laws of Pennsylvania as well as the local laws of the city or county in which you are riding your bicycle.
Pennsylvania Bike Laws
In Pennsylvania, bikes are vehicles. Bike riders have the same rights and responsibilities of anyone else on the road. As cars have a responsibility to bikes and pedestrians, bike riders have a responsibility to pedestrians and cars. Also, children under the age of 12 are required to wear an approved helmet.
- Obey all traffic laws. Just because you are on a bike doesn’t mean you can run a red light or stop sign.
- Ride with the flow of traffic on the right side of the road. It is illegal to ride the wrong way.
- Ride safely, do not swerve back and forth, instead be predictable. Not only is this the law, it decreases your chances of being involved in an accident.
- You must have at least one hand on the handlebars.
- You cannot carry more people than the bike is designed to carry. Small children may ride with adults, but a proper seat must be added to the bike. The child must be wearing a helmet.
- If you ride at night, the bike must have a lamp along with rear and side reflecters
- Pedestrians have right of way on paths and sidewalks. Make a noise if you are about to come up on a pedestrian.
- Bikes are not allowed on sidewalks in business districts or where a bike lane is available.
- You must have proper brakes that will stop your bike within 15 feet.
- No bicycles on freeways without permission of PennDot.
Philadelphia Bike Laws
Philadelphia’s bike laws are more strict than are Pennsylvania’s. Remember, you must follow both Pennsylvania and Philadelphia laws when riding in Philly.
- As with Pennsylvania, you must obey all traffic control devices. This means if a left turn is not permitted during a certain period of time, you cannot make that turn. You can choose to get off your bike and walk, at which point you become a pedestrian.
- You must ride single file on the road. If there is a path, you are required to use the path.
- Bikes are required to yield the right of way to pedestrians when leaving a driveway or building. In other words, pedestrians get to cross first if you are about to cross a sidewalk.
- If you are 12 years or older you are not allowed to ride your bike on a sidewalk. There is an exception when in an area with specific permission to do so (Fairmount Park, for example.) The right of way is to pedestrians and you need to make a noise to let people know you are coming up behind them.
- Bikes must have a bell or similar device that can be heard for at least 100 feet. No sirens or whistles.
- Parents are responsible for making sure their children know and obey the law.
- You may not use headphones while on a highway or street while operating a bike.
Hurt in a Bike Accident?
If you are riding your bike and get hurt in an accident, please feel free to contact the Philadelphia personal injury firm of Lowenthal & Abrams. We will discuss your situation with you for no cost, and help you identify your rights under the law.