Pennsylvania becomes the 22nd state to require a minimum safe passing distance
The state of Pennsylvania took a huge stride toward improving our Bike Friendly State standing yesterday, when Governor Corbett signed HB 170, the “Safe Passing Bill” into law. Representative Ron Miller (R-York) has worked with bike advocates for years to pass this important legislation. Pennsylvania joins 21 other states to legislate a 3-foot minimum passing law (PA’s requires 4 feet).
HB 170 amends PA’s motor vehicle code to provide the following protections:
- Every car that passes a bike must give a minimum of 4-feet of clearance at a “prudent reduced speed”
- No turn by a motorist may interfere with a bicycle proceeding straight (the classic right hook)
- Bicycles may be operated at a safe and reasonable speed appropriate for bicycles
- Bicycles must be operated in the right hand lane, or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of roadway.
- This does not apply to a bicycle using any portion of the road due to unsafe surface conditions.
Although we think it’s common sense for drivers to pass with a minimum of four feet and never make a right turn in front of a cyclist, these laws are intended to to protect us in the unfortunate event that it should happen. All too often the cyclist is blamed for any crash (just ask someone who’s been in one), and often has little to no recourse or support from the law.
With this language now in the PA Vehicle Code, it offers opportunities for driver education, as the law can now be included in driver’s tests, driver’s manuals, and driver’s ed classes. Clearly stating how people should drive when overtaking a bicycle will also help educate police officers as their job requires them to be versed in the vehicle code.
The law will go into effect in 60 days.
You can join a discussion about this law on the BikePGH Messageboard.
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