Cycling is one of the fastest and most enjoyable ways to get around Philadelphia. Now more than ever, people are commuting by bicycle due to the new bike lanes and bike shares springing up throughout the city. With more people riding bikes, It’s not uncommon to see people riding on the sidewalks, the wrong way down a one lane street or blasting through a stop sign. Common sense will tell you that some of those moves are unwise, but what are the laws about biking in Philadelphia?
When I ride to work in Philly, my number one law is self-preservation. In any car and bike collision, right or wrong, doesn’t matter: The bicyclist will always lose. So of course, on occasion, a cyclist may have to jump up on the sidewalk or filter through slow traffic to avoid a dangerous situation. However a bicycle is legally a vehicle and entitled to the same rights and responsibilities as a car. This includes respecting the rules of the road such as obeying traffic devices (including stop signs), yielding to pedestrians and traveling with the flow of traffic.
Here are 5 things you didn’t know about biking in Philadelphia:
- Bicycles are entitled to ride in the middle of the lane.
- If there is no bike lane, I often ride smack dab in the middle of the street. It’s easier for the car behind to see me and depending on the layout of the street stops angry drivers from attempting to pass me dangerously close to a parked car. Speaking of passing…
- In order to pass a bicycle a vehicle must be able to give that bike atleast four feet of clearance. I’m sure you’ve noticed that the friendly drivers of Philadelphia strictly abide by this rule.
- Car drivers and car passengers must make sure it’s safe to exit BEFORE opening their door.
- Sometimes riding in the bike lane provides a false sense of security. It is important to stay vigilant with the cars in the parking lane. If a cyclist is doored it’s almost always the driver’s fault and sure to be followed up with a very painful “I didn’t even see you there.”
- Speaking of bike lanes…..
- Bicyclists are not required to ride in the bike lane just because there is one on the street.
- Drivers can merge into the bike lane in order to make a turn, but must do so safely and yield to bikes in the lane.
- When a bike is proceeding straight and a vehicle in the lane is making a turn, the biker has the right of way,
- Beware, even when in the bike lane, bikers are hard to see, especially at night. For your own safety you should consider getting front and rear lighting for your bike. Those reflectors simply don’t cut it. See and be Seen!
- Bicyclist are Full Tort under Pennsylvania Law
- This means that if you are in an accident. You can get paid for all of your injuries including: lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, permanent scarring or disability, road rash. You can even get paid for your property damage. That means you’ll be able to get a brand new bike as soon as you’re pedaling again.
If you’ve been doored or injured while cycling be sure to call an ambulance and the police. Go to the hospital to get checked out immediately. You’re likely to have a lot of adrenaline pumping and may not know the extent of your injuries. Some injuries, such as head trauma, requires a CT-Scan. After you’ve been checked out by the hospital and are on the mend be sure to consult with an experience Philadelphia Bike Lawyer who can help you protect your rights. Call (267) 225-3317 today for a free consultation to see if you have a case!