More and more communities in Pennsylvania want to include bike lanes on their roads, but state regulations limit both PennDOT and local municipalities from developing projects best suited to local needs on state roads. The problem has been exacerbated by inconsistent application of the regulations across the state.
Title 67, section 212.5 of the PA Code requires that local authorities be responsible for installing, maintaining and operating all pavement markings for bicycles, such as the bicycle lane symbol. This section is enforced through the Bicycle Occupancy Permit (BOP), which the municipality must adopt by resolution. If the municipality chooses to have wide, paved shoulders instead of bike lanes, none of these requirements apply. The BOP is not required in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh.
The BOP is not aligned with PennDOTʼs Smart Transportation Guide, Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, and Design Manual, which encourage the use of bike lanes.
The two main issues that municipalities have with the terms of the BOP are maintenance and liability. These issues are magnified if bicycle lanes cross municipal boundaries because each municipality will have to approve and accept the terms of the BOP.
The requirement of the BOP has resulted in the withdrawal of plans for bike lanes in many communities. Furthermore, other bike lane projects have been completed or are currently under construction where no BOP has been required.
Recommendations to facilitate the development of quality, safe bike lanes
Update the PA Code
The existing regulations presume that all bike lanes will be new construction additions to the roadway. Many bike lane projects, however, are reconfigurations of the existing infrastructure. They do not require new construction; only paint and signage are needed.
If the PA Code is amended to remove this provision, PennDOT and local municipalities will have the freedom to determine who holds responsibility for maintenance and liability on a case-by-case basis to fit each project.
Approve Modern Design Standards
The new NACTO Urban Bikeways Design Guide provided cities and towns with state-of- the-practice solutions that can help create complete streets that are safe and enjoyable for bicyclists. These innovative solutions should be approved for use in Pennsylvania.
Bicycle Occupancy Permit (118.9 KiB)
downloadable pdf version of this fact sheet