Pennsylvania Bicycle Law: Rider Beware!

Many people do not realize that there are laws which apply to riding your bicycle in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Here are a few things you might want to be aware of before your next ride:

  • Bicycles are considered “vehicles” under the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code and are governed by the general and specific provisions of the Vehicle Code when operated on Pennsylvania roadways. As such, cyclists are required to stop for stop signs, obey traffic signals, and generally observe all of the rules of the road applicable to motorized vehicles.
  • Parents may be held responsible for children who do not obey the rules applicable to the operation of bicycles on Pennsylvania roadways.
  • Bicycles operated on the roadway must travel in the same direction as vehicular traffic.
  • Bicycles must generally operate in the right hand lane as close to the curb as possible.
  • Bicycles operated after dark must have a white front light and a red rear reflector, along with amber side reflectors.
  • Pedestrians have the right of way on all sidewalks; bicycles may not be ridden on sidewalks in business areas.
  • Children under 12 years old must wear a bike helmet.
    With certain exceptions, bicycles may not be ridden on freeways such as the Pennsylvania
  • Turnpike and similar divided highways.

While the Vehicle Code does not require it, cyclists would be well advised to use common sense on Pennsylvania roadways. Drivers are generally unprepared for cyclists and often fail to see them. Riders should be aware that simply following the rules of the road may not be enough to ensure their safety. While automobiles and bicycles each have a right to use the road, a cyclist stands little chance against a 3,000 lb. car. Knowing the rules of the road, coupled with extreme vigilance, is the best approach.
– Kevin Palmer

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