Duquesne Duke: PA Legislation Aims to Protect Cyclists

Pennsylvania cyclists and motorists may have an easier time sharing the road than they ever have before.

Already approved by the Pa. House, the state Senate passed the Safe Passing Act on January 25 that requires motorists to give cyclists a four-foot berth when passing them.

Gov. Tom Corbett still has to approve the bill in order for it to take effect.

Along with the four-foot berth, House Bill 170 states, “no turn by a driver of a motor vehicle shall interfere with a pedal cycle proceeding straight.”

Eric Boerer, advocacy director for Bike Pittsburgh, said the new legislation “codifies everything” where in the past the law stated vehicles could pass cyclists at “a safe distance.”

“This law is guidance for drivers to basically have a minimum distance, whereas they didn’t have that in the past,” Boerer said.

Jim Reed, a New York and Pennsylvania injury and malpractice lawyer, in an e-mail to The Duke, agreed that the law’s four-foot berth requirement separates it from cycling legislation of other states like New York.

“This Pennsylvania law is much better than the New York law which does not impose a specific distance at which a motorist must pass a bicyclist,” said Reed, an avid cyclist and bike accident lawyer for the past 26 years. “The ambiguity of the New York law makes the law virtually worthless … the Pennsylvania four-foot rule is much better.”

ed noteGovenor Corbett signed the “Safe Passing Bill” into law

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