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PA Bike Laws

Pennsylvania Bike Laws


Safe Passing Laws

Pennsylvania requires that the driver of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left of the bicycle within not less than four feet at a careful and prudent reduced speed.
Source: 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. §3303

Helmet Law

Pennsylvania requires that any person under the age of 12 riding a bicycle, as an operator or passenger, must wear a protective bicycle helmet.
However, in no event shall the failure to wear a required helmet be used as evidence in a trial of any civil action; nor shall any jury in a civil action be instructed regarding violations of the law requiring helmets; nor shall failure to use a helmet be considered as contributory negligence.
Source: 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. §3510

Vulnerable Road User Laws

Pennsylvania does not have any vulnerable road user laws at this time. There are currently no national standards for laws protecting vulnerable road users, but the League of American Bicyclists has drafted a Model Vulnerable Road User statute.


Section 1:
As used herein, the term “vulnerable road user” includes:
(a) a pedestrian, including those persons actually engaged in work upon a highway, or in work upon utility facilities along a highway, or engaged in the provision of emergency services within the right-of-way; or
(b) a person riding an animal; or
(c) a person lawfully operating any of the following on a public right-of-way, crosswalk, or shoulder of the highway:
1. A bicycle;
2. A farm tractor or similar vehicle designed primarily for farm use;
3. A skateboard;
4. Roller skates;
5. In-line skates;
6. A scooter;
7. A moped; 
8. Motorcyclists;
9. Horse-drawn carriage drivers;
10. a person on an electric personal assistive mobility device; or
11. a person in a wheelchair. 
Section 2:
A person who operates a motor vehicle in a careless or distracted manner and causes serious physical injury or death to a vulnerable road user shall be guilty of infliction of serious physical injury or death to a vulnerable user. 
Section 3:
A person issued a citation under this section shall be required to attend a hearing before a court of appropriate jurisdiction.
Section 4:
A person found to have committed an offense under this statute shall be required to
(a) have his or her driving privileged suspended for a period of no less than 6 months; and one or more of the following:
(b) pay a monetary penalty of not more than two thousand dollars; or
(c) serve a period of incarceration which may not exceed thirty days; or
(d) participate in a motor vehicle accident prevention course; or
(e) perform community service for a number of hours to be determined by the court, which may not exceed two hundred hours.
Distracted Driving Laws
Pennsylvania currently has the following law aimed at distracted driving, subject to limited exceptions:
No driver shall operate a motor vehicle on a roadway while using an interactive wireless communications device to send, read or write a text-based communication while the vehicle is in motion.
Source: 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. §3316

Where to Ride

Pennsylvania requires that a bicyclist, traveling at a speed less than the speed of traffic, must ride in the right-hand lane available for traffic, or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, except:
When overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction or
When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into an alley, private road or driveway.
This requirement does not apply to:
A bicycle using any portion of an available roadway due to unsafe surface conditions.
A bicycle using a roadway that has a width of not more than one lane of traffic in each direction.
Source: 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. §3301


Bicycles are not permitted on freeways in Pennsylvania without permission of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.


Sidewalk Riding

Pennsylvania allows bicycles to operate on sidewalks subject to the following rules:
A person riding a bicycle upon a sidewalk used by pedestrians shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian.
A person shall not ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk in a business district unless permitted by official traffic-control devices, or when a usable bicycle-only lane is available adjacent to the sidewalk.
Source: 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. §3508

Mandatory Use of Separated Facilities

Pennsylvania does not require that bicyclists use any lane or path other than a normal vehicular traffic lane.

Bicycling Under the Influence

In Pennsylvania, bicycles are defined as vehicles. Pennsylvania's law prohibiting driving while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances is written so that it applies to all vehicles and therefore applies to bicyclists. Bicycles should not be operated while intoxicated and operating a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances may result in severe punishments.
Source: 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. §§3802; 102

"Idaho Stop" and Vehicle Detection Errors

The Pennsylvania Bicycle Driver’s Manual advises that a bicyclist that is not detected by a traffic signal may legally proceed through a red light. If a traffic signal does not detect your bicycle, try positioning the bicycle directly over the saw cuts in the pavement that detect vehicles. If the signal still does not detect you, you may treat the red light as a stop sign and proceed through the intersection after yielding to all intersecting traffic (including pedestrians).
This guidance is likely based on Pennsylvania’s law regarding inoperable or malfunctioning signals, which instructs vehicular traffic facing a red or completely unlighted signal to stop in the same manner as at a stop sign and proceed in the same manner as one would proceed after making a stop at a stop sign. Unlike some other states, the law does not specifically say that a light that fails to detect a cyclist is defective, but the Pennsylvania Bicycle Driver’s Manual is produced by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and so should be regarded as an official interpretation of Pennsylvania law.
1. Pennsylvania Bicycle Driver’s Manual, available at http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/docs/pamanual.pdf.
2. 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. §3112(c)(2).

Authorization for Local Regulation of bicycles

Pennsylvania provides that its state traffic laws shall not be deemed to prevent local authorities on streets or highways within their physical boundaries from the reasonable exercise of their police powers. Regulating the operation of bicycles and requiring their registration and inspection, and the payment of a reasonable registration fee is presumed to be reasonable exercises of police power.
Source: 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. §6109

Dooring law

Pennsylvania requires that no person open any door on a motor vehicle unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic. In addition, no person shall leave a door open on a side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.
Source: 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. §3705

Treatment as a Vehicle

In Pennsylvania, bicycles are vehicles according to the statute that defines vehicles and a person riding a bicycle has all of the rights and duties of a driver of a vehicle under Title 75 of the Pennsylvania Statutes, except for special regulations specific to bicycles and those provisions that by their nature can have no application.
Source: 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. §§102; 3501

Hand and Arm Signals

1. To signal a left turn, extend the left hand and arm horizontally.
2. To signal a right turn, extend the right hand and arm horizontally, or extend your left hand and arm upward.
3. To signal a stop or decrease in speed, extend the left hand and arm downward.



If you use your bike between sunset and sunrise, it must be equipped with a front lamp, rear and side reflectors that are visible from at least 500 feet. This is both to help other motorists see you and also to illuminate your path. Your bike must be equipped with brakes that will stop the bike 15 feet from an initial speed of 15 mph on dry, level pavement.


You can park your bicycle on a sidewalk as long as it does not impede pedestrian traffic. You can park your bicycle at the curb or edge of the roadway where parking is allowed as long as it does not obstruct other vehicles.


You cannot have more people on the bike than the bike is designed to carry but an adult can transport a child in a secure child carrier or trailer. You cannot carry any packages or other items that prevent you from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars.
Safe Routes to School Program
Pennsylvania administers the federal Safe Routes to School Program, which facilitates projects that enable and encourage children to safely walk or bike to school. To learn more about the program, visit www.saferoutespa.org or www.saferoutesinfo.org.
Share the Road License Plates
Pennsylvania does not offer Share the Road license plates at this time.
Ohio River Trail Council License Plates
Pennsylvania does offer the Ohio River Trail Council license plate. Please visit www.membership.ohiorivertrail.org/index.php/license-plate.
Source of Laws
The laws regulating the operation of bicycles in the state of Pennsylvania are generally found in Title 75 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes (Pa. Cons. Stat.), available at: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/li/public/cons_index.cfm.  


A vehicle propelled soley by human-powered pedals. The term does not mean a three-wheeled human powered pedal-driven vehicle with a main driving wheel 20 inches in diameter or under and primarily designed for children six years of age or younger.
Comment: Pedalcycle is the legal terminology for a bicycle in Pennsylvania
Chapter 35 - Special Vehicles and Pedestrians
Subchapter A - Operation of Pedalcycles (Bicycles)
Section 3501. Applicability of traffic laws to pedalcycles.
(a) General rule. -- Every person riding a pedalcycle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this title, except as to special provisions in this subchapter and except as to those provisions of this title which by their nature can have no application.
(b) Application of subchapter. -- The provisions of this subchapter apply whenever a pedalcycle is operated upon any highway or upon any path set aside for the exclusive use of pedalcycles subject to the exceptions stated in subsection (a).
Comment: Bicycles are considered vehicles under Pennsylvania Laws and
must obey all the rules of the road which apply to vehicles. 
These are the "responsibilities" mentioned above. The "rights"
refer to the roadway space required to operate the bicycle in a
safe, lawful manner.
Section 3502. Penalty for violation of subchapter.
Any person violating any provision of this subchapter is guilty of a summary offense and shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to pay a fine of $10. 
Section 3503. Responsibility of parent or guardian.
The parent of any child and the guardian of any ward shall not authorize or knowingly permit the child or ward to violate any of the provisions of this title relating to the operation of pedalcycles.
Section 3504. Riding on pedalcycles.
(a) Use of seat by operator. -- A person propelling a pedalcycle shall not ride other than upon or astride a permanent and regular seat attached to the pedalcycle.
(b) Number of riders. -- No pedalcycle shall be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which the pedalcycle is designed and equipped, except that an adult rider may transport a child in a pedalcycle or in a child carrier which is securely attached to the pedalcycle or in a trailer which is towed by a pedalcycle.
Section 3505.
(a) General rule. -- Except as provided in subsections (b) and (c), every person operating a pedalcycle upon a highway shall obey the applicable rules of the road as contained in this title.
Comment: This statement reiterates the necessity for cyclists to conform to the expectations of other road users in order to ensure the safety of all.
(b) Operation on shoulder. -- A pedalcycle may be operated on the shoulder of a highway and shall be operated in the same direction as required of vehicles operated on the roadway.
Comment: A bicycle may be operated on either a shoulder or on the roadway (the travel lanes). The locations will be based upon traffic volume, the physical condition of the travel lanes or the
shoulder, traffic speed, the bicyclist's intended direction, and other safety factors.
(c) Slower than prevailing speeds.-- A pedalcycle operated at slower than prevailing speed shall be operated in accordance with the provisions of Section 3301(b), unless it is unsafe to do so.
[3301(b). Vehicle proceeding at less than normal speed. 
Upon all roadways, any vehicles proceeding at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place under the conditions than existing shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic, or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction or when preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into an alley, private road or driveway. This subsection does not apply to a driver who must necessarily drive in a lane other than the right-hand lane to continue on his intended route.]
Comment: Taken together, 3505 (c) and 3301 (b) state that slower vehicles should keep to the right, which is the normal expectation of all road users, while permitting bicyclists to make movements consistent with their intended route.
(d) One-way roadways. -- Any person operating a pedalcycle upon a roadway, which carries traffic in one direction only and has two or more marked traffic lanes, may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of the roadway as practicable, exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction.
Comment: Bicycles may ride in the left lane of a one-way street which contains two or more lanes. However, this does not apply to pedalcyclists on freeways. See Section 3511(d), below.
(e) Limitation on riding abreast. -- Persons riding pedalcycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast, except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of pedalcycles.
Section 3506.
No person operating a pedalcycle shall carry any package, bundle or article which prevents the driver from keeping at least one hand upon the handlebars.
Section 3507. Lamps or other equipment on pedalcycles.
(a) Lamps and reflectors. -- Every pedalcycle when in use between sunset and sunrise shall be equipped on the front with a lamp which emits a beam of white light intended to illuminate the pedalcycle operator's path and visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front, a red reflector facing to the rear which shall be visible at least 500 feet to the rear, and an amber reflector on each side. Operators of pedalcycles may supplement the required front lamp with a white flashing lamp, light-emitting diode or similar device to enhance their visibility to other traffic and with a lamp emitting a red flashing lamp, light-emitting diode or similar device visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear. A lamp or lamps worn by the operator of a pedalcycle shall comply with the requirements of this subsection if the lamp or lamps can be seen at the distances specified.
Comment: Many car-bike crashes occur at night and involve a poorly illuminated bicyclist. Bicyclists should understand that headlamps serve two purposes: a) primarily, they advise other
road users of their presence (vitally important to prevent unsuspecting motorists from cutting across the paths of cyclists they cannot even detect), b) secondarily, illuminate the bicyclist’s path
(b) Audible signal devices.--A pedalcycle may be equipped with a device capable of giving a signal audible for a distance of at least 100 feet except that pedalcycle shall not be equipped with nor shall any person use upon a pedalcycle any siren.
(c) Brakes.--Every Pedalcycle shall be equipped with a braking system which will stop the pedelcycle in 15 feet from a initial speed of 15 miles per hour on a dry, level and clean pavement.
Section 3508. Pedalcycles on sidewalks and pedalcycle paths.
(a) Right-of-way to pedestrians.-- A person riding a pedalcycle upon a sidewalk or pedalcycle path used by pedestrians shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian.
(b) Business districts.-- A person shall not ride a pedalcycle upon a sidewalk in a business district unless permitted by official traffic-control devices, nor when a usable pedalcycle-only lane has been provided adjacent to the sidewalk.
Section 3509. Parking.
(a) Sidewalks.
(1) A person may park a pedalcycle on a sidewalk unless prohibited or restricted by an official traffic-control device. (2) A pedalcycle parked on a sidewalk shall not impede the normal
and reasonable movement of pedestrian or other traffic.
(b) Roadways.
(1) A pedalcycle may be parked on the roadway at any angle to the curb or edge of the roadway at any location where parking is allowed. 
(2) A pedalcycle may be parked on the roadway abreast of another pedalcycle or pedalcycles near the side of the roadway at any location where parking is allowed.
(3) A person shall not park a pedalcycle on a roadway in such a manner as to obstruct the movement of a legally parked motor vehicle.
(4) In all other respects, pedalcycles parked anywhere on a highway shall conform with the provisions of Subchapter E of Chapter 33 (relating to stopping, standing and parking).
Section 3510. Pedalcycle helmets for certain persons.
(a) General rule.-- A person under 12 years of age shall not operate a pedalcycle or ride as a passenger on a pedalcycle unless the person is wearing a pedalcycle helmet meeting the standards of the American Standards Institute, the American Society for Testing and Materials, the Snell Memorial Foundation's Standards for Protective Headgear for Use in Bicycling or any other nationally recognized standard for pedalcycle helmet approval. This subsection shall also apply to a person who rides:
(1) upon a pedalcycle while in a restraining seat attached to a pedalcycle; or
(2) in a trailer towed by a pedalcycle.
Comment: The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation strongly 
recommends that all bicyclists wear approved helmets
whenever they ride.
(b) Helmet to be labeled.--Any helmet sold or offered for sale for use by operators and passengers of pedalcycles shall be labeled in accordance with the standard described in subsection (a), which shall constitute the manufacturer's certification that the helmet conforms to the applicable safety standards.
(1) Sale of helmet.-- no person shall sell or offer for sale for use by an operator or passenger of a pedalcycle a helmet which is not a type meeting the requirements established by this section.
(2) Waiver of fine.--If a person receives a citation issued by the proper authority for violation of subsection (a), a district justice, magistrate of judge shall dismiss the charges if the person prior to or at his hearing displays evidence of acquisition of a helmet meeting the standards prescribed in subsection (a) to such district justice, magistrate or judge. Sufficient evidence shall include a receipt mailed to the appropriate court officer which evidences purchase or transfer of such a helmet from another helmet owner, evideinces by a notarized letter.
(3) Exemption.--This section shall not apply to a child under 12 years of age who can produce a statement from the family's church authorities attesting that it is against the tenets of the family religion to wear a helmet.
(c) Civil actions.--In no event shall a violation or alleged violation os subsection (a) be used as evidence in a trail of any civil action; nor shall any jury in civil action be instructed that any conduct did constitute or could be interpreted by them to constitute a violation of subsection (a); nor shall failure to use a pedalcycle helmet be considered as contributory negligence nor shall failure to use a pedalcycle helmet be admissible as evidence in the trail of any civil action.
(d) Penalty.--Notwithstanding any other provisions of law , any violation of subsection (a) is punishable by a fine, including all penalties, assessments and court costs imposed on the comvicted person not exceed $25. The parent or legal guardian having control or custody of person under 12 years of age whose conduct violates this section shall be jointly and severally liable with person for the amount of the fine imposed.
(e) Definitions.--As used in this section, the term "wearing a pedalcycle helmet" means having a pedalcycle helmet of good fit fastened securely upon the head with helmet straps.
Section 3511. Pedalcycles prohibited on freeways.
(a) General rule.-- No person shall ride a pedalcycle on a freeway.
(b) Exceptions.
(1) The department and local authorities, on highways under their respective jurisdictions, may issue permits for a procession or event prohibited under subsection (a) upon a determination that:
(i) The pedalcycle procession or event is of national, state, or regional interest; and
(ii) the results of an engineering and traffic study indicates that the procession or event can be conducted with safety.
(2) On State-designed freeways, pedalcycles may be authorized under the following limitations:
(i) The pedalcycler is 16 years of age or older and is accompanied by a pedalcycler 18 years of age or older. 
(ii) A written request for review of the freeway route based on the potential unavailability of a reasonable alternate route is made to the department. 
(iii) The department determines that no reasonable alternate route exists.
(iv) The department publishes a notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin authorizing pedalcycle access to the freeway. The notice shall constitute approval for the persons authorized under subparagraph (i) to ride a pedalcycle on the State-designated freeway.
(c) Action by local authorities.-- Action taken by local authorities regarding permission to use pedalcycles on freeways under their jurisdiction shall be:
(1) by ordinance of the local governing body; or
(2) by a commission or public official authorized to act on
specified matters.
(d) Operation on shoulder.- - If the department authorizes pedalcycle access to a freeway, the pedalcycle shall be operated upon the shoulder of that freeway whenever practicable.
Comment: Bicycles may be permitted on freeways in Pennsylvania with permission of the Department. The applicant must submit a written request (form) to the Department for review. In
addition, Section 3511(d) requires the bicycle to be ridden on the shoulder of the freeway.
Section 3513. Civil immunity for lenders of pedalcycle helmets. 
No person or organization who or which lends to another person or organization a pedalcycle helmet, as described in section 3510 (relating to pedalcycle helmets for certain persons), shall be liable for any civil damages resulting from any act or omission, except any act or omission intentionally designed to harm or any grossly negligent act or omission resulting in harm to another.
Section 3112. Traffic-control signals.
(c) Inoperable or malfunctioning signal.-If a traffic-control signal is out of operation or is not functioning properly, vehicular traffic facing a:
(1) Green or yellow signal my proceed with caution as indicated on subsection(a)(1) and (2).
(2) Red or completely unlighted signal shall stop in the same manner as a stop sign, and the right to proceed shall be subject to the rules applicable after making a stop at a stop sign as provided in section 3323 (relating to stop signs and yield signs). 
Comment: Standard traffic signals sometimes do not detect bicycles, You may be unable to pass through a sigmalized intersection because the green signal is never received. When faced with this problem, you may treat the signal as malfunctioning and take the fillowing steps to safely proceed though the intersection. First, determime that the signal will not detect you . Try to position the bicycle directly over the saw cuts in the pavement behind the white painted "stop bar" at the head of the lane. These cuts, which often take the shape of a elongated hexagon, contain the loop wires that detect vehicles. If no cuts are evident, you may have to guess their location. Wait for a complete cycle of the signal through all legs of the intersection. If you still believe that the signal will not detect you, treat the red signal as a stop sign and proceed through the intersection only after yeilding the right -of-way to all intersecting traffic (including pedestrians) that may be close enough to constitut a hazard during the time when you are moving across or within the intersection or junction of roadways.
Section 3336. Method of giving hand and arm signals.
All signals given by hand and arm shall be given from the left side of the vehicle in the following manner except as indicated for pedalcycles and motorcycles and the signals shall indicate as follows:
(1) For a left turn, the hand and arm shall be extended horizonally.
(2) For a right turn, the left hand and arm shall be extended upward, except operators of motorcycles and pedalcycles may also be permitted to signal a right turn by extending the right hand and arm horizonally.
(3) To stop or decrease speed, the left hand and arm shall be extended downward.
Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicle's Bicycle Driver'sManual: http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/docs/pamanual.pdf

Event Photos

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