With Spring Come the Bicycles: Remember to Provide "Cushion of Safety"

May 1st, 2014, 8:57 AM

Pennsylvania law requires cars to leave a 4-foot "cushion of safety" when passing a bicyclist. To create this cushion, autos may even cross a roadway’s center line when passing a bicycle on the left, if opposing traffic would not create a hazard for such a maneuver. Cars that are turning left, must also yield the right-of-way to bicycles (quaintly referred to as "pedalcycles" in the statute) that are traveling in the opposite direction.

PennDOT recommends that bicyclists always ride predictably and signal their intentions before proceeding so that operators of autos have a chance to react.  In this regard, Pennsylvania requires bicycle riders to obey all traffic signs and signals and to avoid impeding the normal flow of auto traffic. When there is only one travel lane, bicyclists may use any portion of the traveled lane to avoid hazards, including maintaining a safe distance from stopped and parked cars.

The law that creates the "cushion of safety" is found at 75 Pa.C.S. A. Section 3303, which provides as follows:


            § 3303. Overtaking vehicle on the left

            (a) General rule.--The following rules shall govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles proceeding in the same direction, subject to the limitations, exceptions and special rules stated in this chapter:


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(3) 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.





Call (814) 456-4000 to speak with Robert C. LeSuer or Craig A. Markham at the Elderkin Law Firm in Erie, Pennsylvania and to arrange for a free consultation concerning your questions about accident claims. Your initial meeting with one of these attorneys in our Erie, Pennsylvania office is absolutely free and is without any obligation to hire us. We will provide you with a free initial evaluation of your case and will answer your questions about the law. If you choose the Elderkin Law firm to represent you, you will pay no fee unless we are successful in obtaining compensation for your injuries and losses. In such a case, our fee will be calculated as a percentage of the amount of the settlement or award.

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