There’s more to Pennsylvania’s “Safe Passing Law” than 4 feet.
While most members and supporters of BikePGH are aware that you need to pass bikes with four feet you might know that it is also required for motorists to yield to people on bikes when turning. The Right Hook and Left Cross are two of the most dangerous behaviors cars do for people riding bikes. They are also illegal in the state of PA.
As we were reminded this week when 5 Pittsburgh Cyclist were struck by a car this weekend it is imperative that drivers know turning left to “beat” a group of cyclist is not only a dangerous move but it is also against the law.
What to do as a driver.
As a driver you might not have experienced a Right Hook but imagine someone driving next to you in the left lane and suddenly cutting over to make the next right turn. It is a very dangerous move that places the you into an instant emergency stop. You might not see this move often in a car but it happens to cyclist on a regular basis. Be careful when you are making a right turn when you encounter people on bikes sharing the roadway and wait for them to pass before you attempt to make a right turn. It might sound too simple but as the saying goes, pass with care.
The Left Cross is a bit more relate-able for most drivers in our city… You know the Pittsburgh Left? When a driver tries to time the left hand turn to right when a traffic light turns green to beat the other car, it is a dangerous move that somehow we have grown accustom to. Now, think about someone attempting it not at a traffic light but while you are just going down the road. This is a Left Cross.
Having someone try to “beat” you to an intersection by cutting in front of you can cause for panic. It is not only very scary but also the cause of lots of crashes in Pittsburgh as well as around the Country. Remember when driving that not all people on bikes go the same speed. Never try to “beat” a person on a bike to make a turn. It might sound too simple but as the saying goes, pass with care.
PENNSYLVANIA’S SAFE PASSING LAW (HB 170) PROVIDES THE FOLLOWING PROTECTIONS:
- Every driver that passes a bike must give a minimum of 4-feet of clearance at a “prudent reduced speed.”
- It is legal to cross the center double yellow line if necessary to provide the required four feet when passing a bicycle, if you judge that it is safe to do so.
- No turn by a motorist may interfere with a bicycle proceeding straight. (Right Hook and Left Cross)
- Bicycles may be operated at a safe and reasonable speed appropriate for bicycles.
- Unless making a left turn, 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.
For the text of the “Safe Passing Law”, view the PA Vehicle Code, Title 75.
We are very grateful that the people involved in this last weekends crash are doing well and all out of the hospital with minor injuries. Help us get the word out on the dangers of the Left Cross and Right Hook to more drivers and share this message to your co-workers, social networks, and others.
How safe is Pittsburgh for pedestrians and cyclists? We now have a better idea.
Did you know that in Pittsburgh, a pedestrian is hit every 34 hours? You can learn more safety statistics in our new report on Bicycling & Pedestrian safety in Pittsburgh. We hope that this snapshot of the state of biking and walking safety will help all of us see where improvements are needed, as well as provide a reference point for other American cities.Read the report