Pennsylvania Bicycle Laws
This page entails an overview of Pennsylvania’s bicycle laws and what cyclists need to know about.
All cyclists should have a comprehensive understanding of the rules of the road and their personal responsibilities while traveling throughout Pennsylvania. This knowledge can help people avoid tickets, fines, and potentially severe accidents.
On this page, we are going to discuss some of the more important bicycle laws that have been administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Reviewing and following this list of laws can assist in staying safe while enjoying the state’s roadways.
We understand how fun it is to ride bikes all throughout Pennsylvania, but we also know how dangerous it can be in urban areas and riding in the evening hours everywhere. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury as a result of a bicycle accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, contact us today for a free consultation so we can advise you about potential claims.
Bicycle Laws for Helmets
Wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle isn’t required in every state, and Pennsylvania is one of those states in which adults are not required to wear helmets. There is also a specific statute that clarifies that helmet use cannot be used as evidence when it comes to a cyclist’s contributory negligence.
But this same statue does require anyone under 12 years old to wear a helmet. While adults are not required to wear a helmet, it may still be a good idea to do so. PennDOT explains that wearing a helmet can reduce the chances of serious biking injuries by about 85 percent.
Where You’re Allowed to Ride
Pennsylvania law covers some rather specific stipulations when it comes to where cyclists can ride their bicycles, including the following:
- Cyclists are allowed to ride on shoulders or travel lanes of a roadway
- You must ride in the same direction as traffic
- Riding bikes on a freeway or divided highway is prohibited unless you have the permission of PennDOT
- Cyclists can only ride on sidewalks in the situation that there are no available bike lanes and/or the cyclist(s) is not riding in a designated business district. When cyclists are riding on the sidewalk, they must yield to other pedestrians.
A vast majority of bicycle accidents occur during the evening hours, which alludes to the fact that many cyclists could potentially have avoided certain collisions through the use of proper lighting. Headlamps are always useful for bikers because they make themselves more visible to other road users, and they make it easier to see what’s ahead of you.
Pennsylvania requires cyclists to always use a front white light and a rear reflector when riding at night, and this rear reflector needs to be bright enough to be seen from at least 500 feet. The following is a list of recommended bicycle lights that you can always find at your local bike shop:
- Smaller battery-powered lights — This type of bike light is useful when you know you’ll be riding underneath streetlights and relatively bright nighttime areas. You should always ensure that these lights are pointing towards oncoming traffic as effectively as possible, and you can find this type of equipment at any hardware or bike store.
- Generator System — Generator systems are much brighter than small battery lights, which will be more useful if you intend to ride on darker roads. This is a good choice if your intention is to ride long distances at night, but the main disadvantage of using a generator system is that the light will go out when you stop riding. Because of this disadvantage, a generator system may not be the safest option when riding in stop and go city traffic. But, there are some generator systems that are accompanied by a backup battery pack that will keep your lights illuminated when stopped.
- High-power battery lights — These bike lights tend to be the most powerful and brightest in evening hours, and they are great options when you are riding in the rain or on dark roads. These lights also tend to be the most expensive and need to be recharged or replaced, but they also provide a lot of necessary safety that every night ride requires.
Pennsylvania law indicates that bicycles are considered vehicles, which means cyclists follow the same right-of-way laws as car drivers do. This includes yielding to other pedestrians at intersections, etc.
The specific statue referring to this section of bicycle laws specifically states: “A person riding a bicycle upon a sidewalk or bicycle path used by other pedestrians must yield the right-of-way to all other pedestrians and must provide an audible/visual signal before passing a pedestrian.”
Bike Operation Rules
There are quite a few more rules pertaining to the overall operation of bicycles throughout Pennsylvania that cyclists need to know about, including the rule that cyclists must always ride on regular seats.
You’re also not allowed to have a passenger rest on your handlebars, or have any number of people on a bicycle that the bike is not designed to carry. The only exception to this is when an adult is safely transporting a child in a child carrier that’s either attached to the bike or a trailer that the bike tows.
Having at least one hand on your handlebars is also a legal requirement, so you’re not allowed to carry anything with you on your bike that prevents you from using at least one hand on the handlebars at all times.
Drinking and Biking
This may seem pretty obvious but is not permitted to ride a bike while intoxicated. Drinking and biking have become a problem not only in Pennsylvania but also across the entire country.
Pennsylvania requires all bikers to ride sober, and this includes not riding under the influence of any alcohol or other drugs. This is a crime that every cyclist should take very seriously, which means you should also never let your friends drink and bike.
Were you hurt in a bike accident? Contact us today for a free consultation
If you or a loved one were involved in a biking accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, then you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages.
Our team of Philadelphia & New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyers is here to help you when it comes to holding any responsible party/entity accountable for your injuries, and our past case results are a clear indication as to how we’ll work tirelessly to obtain your maximum, rightful compensation.
Contact us today for a free consultation so we can go over the details of your accident and begin developing your best legal strategies.