The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation issued a news release to remind motorists that a new bicycle safety law takes effect Monday. According to PennDOT, drivers will be required to leave bicyclists a 4-foot comfort zone when passing on the left. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett signed the measure into law in early February, as reported by The Patriot-News. The move is another attempt at improving road safety in Pennsylvania and is also an important step in bicycle safety.
How are drivers supposed to leave a cushion?
According to the Daily Local News, drivers are permitted to cross the center line of the road to meet the 4-foot requirement. Crossing the center line of the road is only permitted if opposing traffic allows the pass to be permitted safely. In addition, according to the report, the new law requires drivers turning left to yield to bicycles and also safeguards against drivers cutting a bike off when turning right.
Is Pennsylvania the only state to legally require a safe distance between bikes and traffic?
According to the Valley News Dispatch, Pennsylvania is the 19th state to pass a mandatory minimum distance requirement for passing bicycles. The high price of gas has led to more and more residents turning to bikes to get around, and the phenomenon could grow if the price of gas continues to rise. In addition, the report states that a minimum distance was never specified in any previous law or traffic code in Pennsylvania.
Does the law have any other requirements?
According to the PennDOT news release, bike riders are required to use all reasonable effort to not impede the normal flow of traffic on any road. The law basically encourages respect and safe operation from drivers of vehicles and riders of bicycles, which could vary depending on enforcement techniques use by police.
What concerns do law enforcement agencies have with the new law?
The Valley News Dispatch indicates one of the main areas of concern for law enforcement agencies is that motorists will not check for oncoming traffic before passing bicyclists to accommodate the four-foot safety zone. However, the report also mentions that drivers regularly cross the center of the line when permitted to pass other vehicles. The law is leaning on drivers and riders to obey traffic signs and signals to allow for safe operation of vehicles and bikes.
Jason Gallagher is a longtime Pennsylvania resident. He has experiences in trends and developments in many regions from having lived in many parts of the Keystone State, and currently resides in the Pittsburgh area.