Pennsylvania Bicycling Laws

Rules of the Road for Bicyclists in Pennsylvania

Biking in Lancaster County is an adventure.  Long open stretches of peaceful, quiet roadways are perfect for bicycling.  Plus, there are lots of scenic diversions along the way, such as covered bridges and Amish one-room schools. But you can’t get away from the rule of law.  So, we thought it would be helpful to summarize Pennsylvania bicycling laws for a those who are unsure what is expected of them.

Pennsylvania Bicycling Laws

  • In Pennsylvania, bicyclists must obey all regular traffic laws that apply to other vehicles.
  • Obey all stop signs and traffic signals. If a traffic light does not sense your presence at the intersection you may proceed as though it were a stop sign, as long as you yield to other vehicles and pedestrians.
  • Approved bike helmets are required for all cyclists under age 12, including passengers.
  • A bike can have only the number of people it was designed to carry, but an adult can also carry a child in a secure child carrier or trailer.
  • Ride on the right side of the road. Bikes may also be ridden on the shoulder of the road. Slower vehicles should keep to the right.  On one way streets, bikes may use the left lanes. Do not ride against the flow of traffic.
  • At least one hand must be on the handlebars at all times.
  • Between sunset and sunrise a front lamp and rear and side reflectors are required. These must be visible from 500 feet.
  • Bikes must have sufficient brakes that can stop them within 15 feet if riding at 15mph on level, dry pavement.
  • Pedestrians have the right of way on sidewalks and on bicycle paths (but I thought they were called ‘bicycle paths’?).  Bikers must give some sort of audible signal when approaching and passing pedestrians.
  • Bike cannot be ridden on sidewalks in business districts or where there is a bicycle-only lane provided.
  • Bikes may be parked on sidewalks if they don’t interfere with pedestrian traffic, or on the edge of a road if they don’t block other vehicles.
  • Bicyclists are not permitted on freeways without permission from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Bicycling Safety

  • Bike helmets are recommended for all cyclists regardless of age.
  • Ride in a straight line
  • Use hand signals when turning. For left turn, extend your left arm out horizontally.  For a right turn, either extend your right arm out horizontally or extend your left arm and hand upward.  To signal slowing or stopping, extend the left arm and hand downward.
  • Make sure traffic is clear when changing lanes
  • Wear bright clothing so you are easily visible by vehicles.
  • Carry with you a bike pump, tube patch kit, and other supplies.
  • Ride defensively.

Learn more about bicycling in Lancaster County here.