Bicycle Safety Tips

Bicycle Safety

New Pennsylvania Bicycle Safety Laws

In 2012, Pennsylvania enacted new bicycle safety laws to protect riders from being injured in accidents. The new laws include:

  • When passing a bicyclist, drivers must allow at least four feet between their vehicle and the bicycle.
  • Drivers are permitted to cross the center double yellow line if necessary to provide the required four feet as long as it is safe to do so.
  • When traveling below the posted speed limit, cyclists must keep to the right side of the road unless they are making a left turn or riding on a one-way street.
  • If there is only one travel lane, bicyclists may use any portion of the lane to avoid hazards on the roadway.
  • No turn by a driver can interfere with a bicyclist who is proceeding straight on a roadway. Drivers attempting to turn left must yield the right of way to bicyclists traveling in the opposite direction.
  • It is illegal for motorists to force a bicyclist off of the road, and drivers who do this may face criminal charges.

Bicycle Accident Prevention

Want to help lower your risk of being in a bicycle accident? While you can't control what other drivers or bikers do, there are several tips you can follow to help reduce your chance of being seriously injured or killed while biking:

  • Make sure your bike is functioning properly before you begin riding it. It's important to check that all parts are in working order, that the tire pressure is normal, and that the chain, brakes, and lights all work properly.
  • Know all the traffic laws and safety hand signals. To make a left turn, extend your left arm straight out to your side. For a right turn, bend your elbow and hold your arm up in an "L" shape, or extend your arm straight out to your side. To make a sudden stop, hold your arm in an upside-down "L" shape.
  • Try to take less-traveled routes so that you won't have to compete with dangerous traffic.
  • Ride in a straight line on the right side of the road.
  • Ride near the curb, but stay a car door's width away from parked cars, as someone may suddenly exit the car in front of you.
  • Always ride in the same direction as traffic flow. This puts you where motorists are sure to see you.
  • Ride defensively with the assumption that drivers can't see you.
  • Obey the two-second rule. When the car in front of you passes a fixed object, begin counting. If you get to that object before you count to two, you're following too closely.
  • Always keep both hands on the brake and keep an eye out for potholes, rocks, and other obstacles.
  • Wear fluorescent or reflective gear, especially when riding at night. Equip your bike with a white headlight and a red taillight, as well as with front and rear reflectors.
  • Be careful when riding in wet weather, as snow or rain can impair your brakes.
  • Don't wear loose clothing, as it can get caught in the bike's chain, gears, or brakes. Clip your pants to avoid getting them caught in the bike's parts.
  • Always wear a helmet. Studies have found that wearing a helmet can help reduce bicycle injuries by 85 percent. Get one that fits properly and meets one of the following safety standards:
    • Canadian Standards Association standard CAN/CSA D113.2 M89
    • American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard Z90.40 1984
    • Snell Memorial Foundation standard B 90,B 90S, N 94, or B 95
    • American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard F 1447 93 or F 1447 94

For more information about staying safe while riding your bike, check out our Bicycle Safety infographic.

Source: "Bicycle Safety Tips." July 24, 2008.