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.

Many states have taken action by amending their vehicle code to 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 bicyclistʼs direction of travel

Motorists misjudging the space required to pass a bicyclist, and motorists turning into the path of an approaching bicyclist are two common causes of bicycle crashes, accounting for 8-12% of the total.

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.

House Bill 170 and Senate Bill 156 have been introduced to address these concerns. These bills would add safe bicycle passing and turning requirements to the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code. House Bill 170 was passed by the PA House on May 23, 2011. It is currently being considered by the Senate Transportation Committee.

Attachments

  1. Safe Bicycle Passing (129.5 KiB)
    downloadable pdf version of this fact sheet

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