A new Pennsylvania law mandates that drivers give cyclists a wider path

Philadelphia Skyline

Philadelphia Skyline (Photo credit: Vlastula)

A new law in Pennsylvania requiring cars and trucks to give four feet of clearance when passing a cyclist simply put on the books what good drivers should be doing already, according to the bill’s supporters. “All it does is codify what smart drivers and safe drivers already do,” said Andrew Stober, spokesman for the mayor’s office of transportation in Philadelphia. “There are 20 states that have this law.” The statewide law, which went into effect Monday morning, allows drivers to pass over yellow lane lines to make way for cyclists. Cars turning left must also yield to bikes coming from the opposite direction.

“The four-foot passing law is not about some kind of Big Brother-y attempt to monitor every action on the road, but now a motorist knows they can pass a yellow line to get by a bicyclist,” said Nicholas Mirra, communications coordinator for the Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia. The onus for road safety is not just on motorists. Bicycles are vehicles by legal standards and have the same responsibility to follow traffic signals, according to AAA MidAtlantic spokeswoman Jenny Robinson. The new law requires that cyclists “use reasonable efforts” to avoid disrupting the flow of traffic and stay “as close as practicable” to the right-hand curb.

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