Cyclists, be ready! Changes to the PA Vehicle Code, Title 75, will take effect on April 2, 2012, changing your vehicular rights and responsibilities on PA roadways.
PA House Bill No. 170 amending the rights and responsibilities of cyclists and motorists passed the State Senate on 1/27/2012 and was signed by Governor Corbett on 2/2/2012.
Here is a summary of how these changes will affect YOU, as a cyclist or motorist. (Note, this is not a legal interpretation, merely personal commentary for your information.)
Section 3301(b)(1) & (2) – COMMENTARY: Changes to these sections (for all vehicles, motor and pedal) are made to clarify that although a cyclist is generally a vehicle traveling less than normal speed, travel rules specific to cyclists are found in Chapter 35 (cyclist-specific).
Section 3301(c)(1) – COMMENTARY: A cyclist riding in accordance with Chapter 35 (cyclist-specific) shall drive their bike in the right-hand lane, OR “…as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway…”, except when (1) passing another vehicle or (2) preparing for a left-turn. This subsection does not apply for cyclists using (1) “any portion of an available roadway due to unsafe surface conditions”, or (2) a roadway with not more than one lane in each direction. ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY: Cyclists should not ride in the door zone of parked cars, or on the shoulder through intersections where visibility of traffic flow may be obscured, leading to other vehicles turning into the path of cyclists. A cyclist can also reduce potential conflicts by minimizing the number of times that one moves right into a gap between parked cars, and then moves left again to return to the travel lane.
Section 3303(a)(3) – QUOTED TEXT FROM HB170: “The driver of a motor vehicle overtaking a pedalcycle shall pass to the left with not less than four feet at a careful and prudent reduced speed.” ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY: Self-explanatory, but does not state how the four feet is measured, i.e. from the leftmost extent of the pedalcycle to the rightmost extent of the motor vehicle.
Section 3307(b)(1) – COMMENTARY: It is permissable for a motor vehicle to pass a cyclist in a “No Passing Zone” (double-yellow line), if done in accordance with Sections above.
Section 3331(e) – COMMENTARY: “No turn of a motor vehicle shall interfere with a pedalcycle proceeding straight in accordance with Chapter 35…” COMMENTARY: This may protect legally operating cyclists from turning motorists, but as a practice, cyclists should not ride in the door zone or overtake motor vehicles by filtering-forward.
Section 3364(b)(2) – Minimum Speed Regulation – QUOTED TEXT FROM HB170: “A pedalcycle may be operated at a reasonable speed appropriate for the pedalcycle. A pedalcycle operator shall use reasonable efforts so as not to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.” COMMENTARY: This new subsection clarifies that 3364(b)(1) “Slow moving vehicles to drive off roadway” does not apply to cyclists, and hence, cyclists do not need to pull off the roadway at first opportunity. However, cyclists shall be reasonable to not impede traffic flow. This can be interpreted as: a cyclist has the legal right to ride within the sections above, and consider one’s own safety on the road before providing courtesy space to motor vehicles if it would endanger the safety of a legally-operating cyclist.