For Motorists: 5 Things Cyclists Do that You Didn’t Know Are Perfectly Legal

It’s true that city cycling is on the rise in the United States, and that has come with some backlash. The mere sight of a bicycle can send some motorists into a fury — often due to drivers not knowing the law. This has caused an alarming number of injury accidents that were completely preventable. Odds are, that annoying thing the person on the bike is doing — is completely legal.

 5. Riding In The Roadway

street cyclingNot only is it legal to ride in the roadway (PA Vehicle Code 3501.a), that’s the only place it is legal to ride. When you yell at a cyclist to “get on the sidewalk” in a business district, you’re asking them to break the law. If a cyclist is in your lane, it’s important to remember — they have the legal right and responsibility to be there, and they do not have to get out of your way any more than any other vehicle would. On one-way roads, cyclists may use the left lane or the right, and on any road, the cyclist may use the full lane if needed for the cyclist’s safety or to prepare for a turning maneuver.

Note: Cyclists are allowed to ride on sidewalks in PA (PA Vehicle Code 3508), except in business districts or where restricted by local ordinances. Philadelphia has such an ordinance that prohibits sidewalk riding citywide for adults. CentreBike does not encourage sidewalk riding, as it is a sideWALK, not a sideROLL. When riding on sidewalks, cyclists must yield to everyone. Pedestrians have the right of way on sidewalks, and there are many more dangers from cars exiting driveways and drivers not expecting cyclists exiting sidewalks at intersections. Be visible in the roadway, not hidden on a sidewalk.

 4. Leaving The Bike Lane To Use The Left Turn Lane

cyclingCyclists are allowed to leave the bike lane for all sorts of reasons (PA Vehicle Code 3301.c). They can do it to avoid hazards, avoid a parked car, or… turn left at an intersection. This is the safest way for a cyclist to turn left, since it avoids crosswalks and sidewalks. Once they make the left turn, they return to the bike lane and all is well. They are also allowed to pass on the right (PA Vehicle Code 3304.a) to move ahead of the cars waiting in line, so they’re not invisible between cars or behind large vehicles.

 3. Riding Straight In The Right Turn Lane

bikede.orgAgain, cyclists are allowed to ride in the roadway for a ton of reasons. Yes, you want to turn right, but there’s some basic geometry at play here. If a cyclist was to stay all the way to the right, what happens when you pass them and turn right? You cut them off. That’s a great way to get a cyclist-shaped imprint in your door and a citation for failure-to-yield right-of-way. When the cyclist keeps the middle or left part of the turn lane, this prevents you from crossing over their path of travel, should they be going straight ahead or turning.

CentreBike supports use of recently adopted changes to the MUTCD allowing a combined through bike lane/right turn lane. Rather than stopping before the intersection, the bike lane continues with dotted lines on the left side of the right turn lane. Check here for drawings and more info. We also support use of the “Bicycle May Use Full Lane” signs also approved in the MUTCD. A university study has shown this sign to be better understood by drivers and cyclists than “Share the Road’ or “Sharrows”.

 2. Filming You While You Scream At Them

YouTubeNot only are cyclists allowed to wear cameras when they ride, CentreBike encourages them to do so. This is so they can have proof of drivers who endanger their safety or injure them when they break the law. This also is to defend them from fault in incidents of road rage. They are allowed to film you, as long as you are in a public place — and the road is public. It might make you feel weird, but it’s totally legal. We have also anecdotally found that the presence of a visible helmet camera encourages increased driver courtesy to a great degree.

 1. Riding Two Abreast In The Roadway

PinterestMany people complain when groups of cyclists ride two abreast in the roadway. They do this mainly because it makes them more visible, but also because it discourages close passing in the lane since many drivers ignore the Four Foot Law (PA Vehicle Code 3303.a.3). This is completely legal (PA Vehicle Code 3504.e) and done for their protection. As long as they aren’t riding more than two abreast, the cyclists are in the right.

And who pays for those roads anyway?

Cyclists are not a bunch of freeloaders who don’t pay to use the roads. Road taxes don’t even pay for these roads. Property, income, and sales taxes do. Cyclists are also business owners, workers, homeowners, consumers and, often, car owners who pay all the taxes that fund roads. Briefly, here is the gist of the facts: studies estimate that motor vehicle users pay an average of 2.3 cents per mile in user charges such as gas taxes, registration fees, and tolls. However, they impose 6.5 cents per mile in road service costs. In contrast, cyclist impose road service costs averaging a miniscule 2/10ths of 1 cent per mile. So, in fact, cyclists are subsidizing car owners, and not the other way ‘round!
You can read a lot more on the issue here:
Why additional road taxes for cyclists would be unfair. (Grist)
The Best Responses to Anti-Cyclist Claims (Bicycling)
Who Pays for Our Roads (from BTA Oregon, but applies to PA as well).

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