In preparation for the PA Walks and Bikes Summit next Wednesday in Harrisburg, we will be releasing a series of policy position statements. These will outline the improvements that we think will make biking and walking better in Pennsylvania. Today, we start with safe bicycle passing. Check in tomorrow for more…
Pennsylvania needs a Safe Passing Law to improve road safety
By now many motorists know that they should “share the road” with bicyclists, but this is not backed up in the Motor Vehicle Code. Some drivers continue to practice unsafe behavior, and bicyclists need the protection of the law to promote their safety.
HB 170 and SB 156 will protect bicyclists in two important ways:
- Require motor vehicles to pass bicyclists with a minimum of 4 feet
- Protect bicyclists from a “right hook” or “left hook,” where a motorist makes an improper turn into the bicyclist’s direction of travel
Motorists misjudging the space required to pass a bicyclist, and motorists turning into the path of an approaching bicyclist are two of the most common causes of bicycle crashes, accounting for 8-12% of all bicycle crashes.
The League of American Bicyclists cites the lack of laws protecting bicyclists from closely passing cars and from right hooks as one of the reasons Pennsylvania ranks so poorly as a bicycle-friendly state. Pennsylvania was ranked 42nd (or the 8th worst state) for bicycle-friendliness in 2010.
To date, at least 15 other states have passed similar safe passing bills, and several more states are currently considering these bills.