A new “safe passing” law in Pennsylvania requires motorists to give bicyclists four feet of clearance when passing and allows drivers to cross the center line to pass safely, according to The Altoona Mirror. Pennsylvania is the 20th state to pass a similar law, which has sparked vigorous “sharing the road” debate since the measure went into effect there April 2.
The law also spells out other rules for how motor vehicle drivers and cyclists interact on the. It requires drivers turning left to yield to oncoming cyclists and prohibits drivers from “right hook” turns that cut off cyclists proceeding straight.
Cyclists must obey all traffic laws and signals, including stop signs. They must make reasonable efforts to avoid impeding traffic, including keeping to the right when it’s safe to do so. But the law allows cyclists to take any lane position they deem to be safe, to avoid hazards such as parked cars or sewer grates. And cyclists don’t have to move off the road if they are going slower than other traffic.
“Bicycle safety is dependent on both parties having respect for the other,” state Rep. Ron Miller, the bill’s sponsor, told the Mirror. “Some motorists will try to get as close to bicyclists as possible in order to make a statement, because of a belief that they don’t belong on the road, which is not the case.”
Road warriors from both sides have weighed in on the issue. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported receiving hundreds of comments after it published an article about the new law.
One driver complained that cyclists “hog up the whole road and hold up all of traffic.” But a cyclist said they need laws protecting them because “we’re more vulnerable.”