Spring has sprung and is present in its full splendor.
True to form, bushes and trees have blossomed, and tulips and daffodils have dotted the landscape. Grass is once again green and the voices of its nemesis, the lawn mower, sing its songs. It is the time of year when anti-histamines fly off the shelves and colorful butterflies emerge from their cocoons. Also, true to form, bicyclists have hit the roadways.
As a cyclist and motorist, I can understand some of the frustrations of both sides. Motorists often have clear destinations in mind and simply want to arrive in a timely manner. Cyclists can impede that process, although briefly, often leading to angst stoking temper flares. At times, this leads to aggressive behavior putting all at risk.
Cyclists, on the other hand, often have no clear-cut destination or agenda. We are out to get exercise, relaxation and comradery. We are cognizant of motorists and your goals and have no intent to limit your achievement of those goals. The vast majority of riders simply request not to be put in harm’s way.
Pennsylvania law has very clear requirements which motorists and cyclists must obey. The Vehicle Code (Title 75) was updated in Jan. 2015. Part III: Operation of vehicles, Chapter 35, Subchapter A, Operations of pedacycyles, Section 3501 lists these obligations, which can easily be found on the internet. The following is a brief summary of the expectations.
Obligations for motorists:
• When passing a bicycle, you must allow at least four feet between your vehicle and the bicycle. When safe to do so, it is legal to cross the center double yellow line, providing there is no oncoming traffic, if needed to provide the required four feet latitude.
• Unless making a left turn, bicyclists must keep to the right side of the roadway. Bicyclists may keep to the left on one way roadways.
• When only one travel lane exists, bicyclists may use any portion of the lane to avoid hazards or to assure visibility.
• No turn by the driver of a motor vehicle should interfere with a bicyclist proceeding straight on a roadway or shoulder.
• It is illegal to force a bicyclist off of the road.
Obligations for cyclists:
• Every person riding a bicycle must obey the same code.
• As stated above, unless making a left turn, bicyclists must keep to the right side of the roadway.
• Bicyclists should not ride more than two abreast.
• Every bicycle, operated between sunset and sunrise, must have a headlamp.
• When approaching or passing a bicycle, slow down to a safe and prudent speed.
• After you have passed a bicyclist, do not slow down or stop quickly; doing so could cause the cyclist to crash resulting in an injury.
• Do not sound your horn close to bicyclists, unless you must do so to avoid a crash: it can cause startle and put all at risk.
Cyclist, we must obey all traffic laws. Most motorists are simply looking for us to do so. They deserve the same degree of respect we seek. I would suggest and request that both motorists and cyclists demonstrate that respect for one another. I strongly believe, that if we do so, safety will be assured for all and the road can be shared peacefully.