While out on my 50-mile ride this weekend, I spent a great deal of time thinking about bicycle safety and what we all can do in helping to keep everyone safe on the road. Whether you are like me and ride for training, ride your bike to get around, ride for exercise, or just for fun; we all are invested in avoiding danger on the roads.
Preventing crashes on the roads involve cyclists, drivers, and motorcyclists working together and understanding the rules of the road in an effort to keep us all safe. One of the ways that law enforcement in Pennsylvania has been taking this matter seriously is by putting into effect a new bicycle safety law in April 2012. Surprisingly, many people I talk to have never heard of the new law — so I would like to share it with all of you. Here are the basics of that law:
- When operating a motor vehicle you must maintain at least 4 feet between you and a cyclist while passing. This allows passing into the yellow lines if it’s safe to pass.
- Motorists cannot drive a cyclist off the road for any reason.. If caught, they may face criminal charges.
- Cyclists must keep to the right side of the road unless making a left-hand turn while riding below posted speed limits.
- Drivers turning left must yield to cyclists, which will prevent drivers cutting a bike off when turning right.
- Cyclists are required to use all reasonable effort to not impede the normal flow of traffic on any road.
Keeping the roads safe is not all in the hands of drivers, but also cyclists. It’s important for cyclists to stay alert and follow all the rules of the road to help drivers avoid accidently hitting them. Cyclists can help to promote safe roads by following the Pennsylvania laws when using a bicycle. Some are listed below.
- Anyone younger than 12 must always wear a helmet. It’s recommended that anyone operating a bicycle wear a helmet. It can save your life.
- Cyclists must obey traffic laws while on their bicycle as they are considered a vehicle when on the road. This includes obeying all traffic signals, stopping at posted signs, and riding with rather than against the flow of traffic.
- Use hand signals to indicate when you are turning so that your actions are predictable by vehicles on the road. Always aim to stay as visible as possible by wearing bright-colored clothing.
- Cyclists must always use a headlight and active red reflector when riding at or before dawn or dusk and when riding in the dark.
If we all work together to better understand the rules of the road, it will make it a safer place for motorists and cyclists alike. Better understanding the laws of each will let us know what we can do to take part in safety this summer! Let’s get out there and ride safely this summer!