Just like any other motorist, Philadelphian bicyclists need to obey street signs they pass on their travels. This includes all stop and yield signs as well as traffic lights.
Bicyclists are also required by Pennsylvania law to yield right-of-way to all pedestrians. This rule applies everywhere, including on crosswalks, sidewalks, and bike lanes. Interestingly, car and motorcycle drivers are not required to yield to bicyclists who pedal through crosswalks.
Philadelphia now has many designated areas known as “bike boxes” in front of traffic lights. Usually colored green, these bike boxes are intended to increase bicyclist visibility and to help cyclists make big turns. Bicyclists should take advantage of these boxes to improve safety when they reach red lights.
In addition to obeying street signs, PennDOT encourages bicyclists to use proper hand signals to let other motorists know where they are going. Here are some basic hand signals all bicyclists should master:
- Holding out your left arm horizontally signals you’re about to turn left.
- Holding out your right arm horizontally signals you’re about to turn right.
- Alternatively, you could signal you’re about to turn right by holding your left arm straight up.
- Holding your left arm straight down is a warning to other drivers that you’re slowing down.
When approaching a pedestrian from behind, bicyclists should make some kind of audible cue to avoid a collision. A common phrase cyclists use is, “on your left,” but ringing a bell also works just fine. Ideally, this bell should be loud enough to reach a 100-foot radius.
For a more thorough understanding of Philadelphia’s bicyclist policies, please take a peek at Title 75 of the Statutes of Pennsylvania on this link.