PENNSYLVANIA BICYCLE LAWS
It’s important to know your legal rights (and duties) when bicycling in Pennsylvania. It is especially important after a bicycle accident (we call them bicycle “crashes” and explain why here).
For any questions about the State’s bike laws, or about your rights to the road, contact attorney Joey Piscitello directly.
Right to the Road
- Pennsylvania bicyclists generally have the same rights, and same duties, as drivers of motor vehicles.
- Bicycles may only carry the number of persons for which it is designed, except an adult may carry a child in a back pack or sling.
- There is a statewide requirement of helmet use for children under 12 years old.
- Pennsylvania’s DUI statute applies to bicyclists.
Where to Ride
- Bicycles are to ride as close as practicable and safe to the right side of the roadway except when overtaking another bicyclist, when preparing to make a left turn, when necessary to avoid a fixed or slow moving object or vehicle or when riding in a substandard width lane.
- On one-way roads and roads with one lane in each direction, bicycles may ride in the middle of the lane.
- Sidewalk riding is generally permitted but bicyclists riding on a sidewalk must yield the right of way to pedestrians and must give an audible signal before passing.
- Many municipalities, however, ban sidewalk riding for persons 12 or 13 years of age and older.
Motor Vehicle Doors
- No person may open the door of a motor vehicle unless it is safe to do so.
Bike Lanes, Bike Paths and Multi-Use Paths
- Pennsylvania bicyclists are not required to ride in or upon bike lanes or paths.
- To turn left bicyclists may perform a “box turn” or use the left turn lane.
- A bicyclist turning left must yield the right of way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction.
Stop Signs and Traffic Control Devices
- Bicyclists are required to come to a full and complete stop at all stop signs and traffic lights displaying a red signal.
- Statewide, bicyclists may proceed through a red signal with caution if the traffic signal’s detection system does not recognize it.
- Bicyclists must use hand/arm signals when turning and stopping.
Drivers Overtaking Bicyclists
- Motor vehicle drivers must allow at least 4 feet of space when passing a bicyclist.
- A driver may not drive recklessly near or drive unnecessarily close to a bicyclist.
- A driver turning right must yield to the right of way of a bicyclist proceeding straight.
Bicycles Passing on the Right
- Bicyclists may pass motor vehicles on the right if it is reasonably safe to do so.
- Bicyclists may not ride more than 2 abreast and may not impede motor vehicle traffic but if riding on a bicycle path or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles, riders are permitted to ride more than 2 abreast.
- Every bicycle must equipped with a white front facing headlight, and a red rear reflector or light, visible from at least 500 feet when used at nighttime. Every bicycle must also have amber reflectors on both sides of the bike.
- Every bicycle shall be equipped with a brake which will adequately control movement of and stop and hold such bicycle.
- Headphones and earbuds are prohibited from being worn by bicyclists.
Electric Assist Bikes
- E-bikes are defined as bicycles that have a motor that is no bigger than 750 watts and has a top speed of 20 mph or less.
- A rider must be at least 16 years of age to ride an e-bike.