In Philadelphia, a bicycle is treated just like a motor vehicle for rules of operation on the streets and roads as well as rights-of-way. A cyclist has all the rights as a motor vehicle and has the same duty to obey Pennsylvania’s vehicle codes. (PC 12-800).
A cyclist has another option when traveling through the city. If the cyclist rides on shared-use bike paths and sidewalks alongside pedestrians, then the bicycle is not treated as a vehicle, otherwise, the bicycle wouldn’t be allowed on sidewalks and bicycle-pedestrians paths.
Philadelphia prohibits all cyclists from riding on sidewalks in the city center. And on other sidewalks, only those 13 and younger are allowed.
Bikes as Vehicles
Generally speaking, under Pennsylvania law, when a pedestrian is in a crosswalk without a signal or if the signal is inoperative, then all vehicles are required to give the pedestrian the right-of-way. When a cyclist is riding in the road—whether it’s in a bike lane, in the middle of the road or riding on the right-hand side of the lane—then the pedestrian in the crosswalk has the right-of-way over the cyclist.
Bikes Riding with Pedestrians
When a cyclist is riding on a shared-use bike path that lets out at a crosswalk, or is riding on the sidewalk and comes to a crosswalk, the law requires that the cyclist give the pedestrian the right-of-way. (75 VC Ch 3508). When a cyclist comes upon a pedestrian in a crosswalk, the cyclist must:
- Yield when necessary,
- Pass on the left,
- Use caution when passing, and
- Make a sound or use a bell to indicate passing.
These rules reflect the relative vulnerability of a pedestrian versus a cyclist. Bikes are slower than cars, but on bike paths and sidewalks, bikes usually travel significantly faster than pedestrians. This puts pedestrians at risk if the cyclist is not careful.
The law also requires pedestrians to be prudent and yield to the right-of-way of bikes and vehicles when they have the right-of-way. A pedestrian is not to enter a crosswalk against a red light or a Don’t Walk signal.
A pedestrian is not to enter a roadway outside a crosswalk when motor vehicles are in traffic, and they are not to step in front of a moving vehicle that has the right-of-way.
Bicycle Accident Injuries and Liability
When someone is injured in a bike, auto or pedestrian accident, the injured person must show that the allegedly at-fault person was negligent. Many people think that if the at-fault person broke a traffic law, then he or she must be at fault.
However, Pennsylvania law states that a violation of a vehicle code can’t be used to automatically determine fault in a personal injury civil case. This doesn’t mean that it’s not relevant that the person broke the vehicle code, but it can’t be used to replace negligence.
Negligence is determined by comparing the actions of the alleged at-fault person with that of a reasonably prudent person under the same circumstances. If the jury thinks the person did the reasonably prudent thing—even if a vehicle code was broken—then there was no negligence.
Contact a Philadelphia Accident Lawyer.
After any accident involving a serious injury, contact a highly rated Philadelphia accident lawyer such as Edith Pearce. Unlike the huge firms with dozens of attorneys and many different attorneys handling different aspects of your case, Edith Pearce is personally involved in every case that we handle. She genuinely cares about her clients and you will not be treated like just another case or file.