New PA Law Gives Cyclists Four Feet of Breathing Room

Violations are summary offenses and carry a $25 fine.

This past December avid cyclist Patrick Ytsma was struck by a car while riding his bicycle in Bethlehem. The motorist neglected to leave enough room while passing Patrick. He died four days later.

In the days following his death, it became clear that Patrick was a stickler for safety. Those who knew him stated how he always wore a helmet and reflective clothing. He not only knew the laws about bicycle safety, but he preached them. Yet, how many non-cyclists are familiar with them?

For instance, did you know cyclists are permitted to ride two abreast on a roadway and as far out to the center line as necessary for safe travel? And because bicycles are considered vehicles they must obey all the rules of the road which apply to vehicles. Also, motor vehicles must yield to all slower moving vehicles, i.e., bicycles.

The new law that went into effect on April 1, 2012, states that a motor vehicle passing a cyclist must give the cyclist at least a four-foot “buffer” and may pass only when it is safe. The bill states verbatim, “The driver of a motor vehicle overtaking a pedalcycle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left of the pedalcycle within not less than four feet at a careful and prudent reduced speed.” Violations are summary offenses and carry a $25 fine.

With the Velodrome’s close proximity to our area and spring training in full swing, we all will benefit keeping in mind this new law as well as brushing up on existing ones to protect all of us sharing the road.

The complete Pennsylvania Bicycle Driver’s Manual can be found on PennDOT’s website at:


This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Scott Alderfer April 16, 2012 at 06:17 PM
Thanks for pointing out that bicycles ARE permitted to ride two abreast. I had no idea. No longer will I give them dirty looks when I safely overtake them. But I still have one big gripe with the many bicyclists that I see riding along Sauerkraut Lane in Lower Macungie. I cannot recall the last time I saw any of them actually STOP for the four-way stop signs at Willow Lane or Mill Creek Road. Let's keep the bicyclists safe, but let's not have double standards.


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