You’ve probably been seeing more of that tell-tale spandex as you travel Pennsylvania and West Virginia roads now that spring has officially sprung: Racing season is upon us, and bicyclists are out and about on many of our scenic throughways.
I know the cycling association my firm, Logue Law Group, sponsors – ABRA, the Appalachian Bicycle Racing Association – just kicked off its racing season this past weekend, which reminded me to remind you to be careful out there when you see those guys and gals on the roads.
And it’s not just because some of them are my friends: It’s because this Morgantown and Pittsburgh Criminal Defense Lawyer doesn’t want ignorance of the law turn into you breaking the law.
Here’s what I’m talking about: You see a bicyclist peddling up a curving back road. The speed limit is 35, and dude is not going nearly that fast.
So what do you do?
Do you pass him? Ride behind him like a creeper?
Here’s what the state Department of Transportation says: Yes, you can pass the cyclist, but you must allow at least 4 feet between your vehicle and the bicycle. And yes, your vehicle may cross the double yellow lines to safely pass.
Before you even ask: If you are driving on a road where there is just one lane of travel, the bicyclist may, in fact, use any portion of the lane in order to safely ride, which means they don’t have to hug the right side of the road – they are permitted to stay a safe distance away from parked or stopped vehicles, etc.
And just to clear the speed issue up: Bicyclists are absolutely expected to obey all traffic laws. A bicycle is considered a vehicle according to state law. Obvious, right? Here’s the thing, though: Don’t yell out your window about the cyclist going too slowly up that hill just yet.
Bicyclists kind of get a bye on that one: According to PennDOT, a cyclist may, in fact, travel more slowly than the posted minimum speed limit and not be cited for impeding traffic. Another fun fact: Yes, bicyclists may travel on the shoulder or berm of a road, but they are not required to.
What about when you park? You are required to look for cyclists before you open your door. If you don’t, and a cyclist hits your door and wrecks, it won’t be him or her getting the ticket. It will be you. This is called “dooring” and is taken very seriously.
The biggest threat to bicyclists is other vehicles. An accident between a car and a bicycle doesn’t usually come out well for the cyclist, which is why the government and cops take such a hard stance on them.
Another tidbit you ought to be aware of: in an accident, the bicyclist gets paid for all of his or her injuries, lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, and a new bike. This is because they are considered “Full Torte” in the eyes of the law. Since someone has to pay for that, it means your insurance rates will go up if you are the driver who doors the biker, or cuts him off after passing him, or hits him from behind.
So be careful, be prudent, and be safe. And in case you are held by the police for some or the other sort of carelessness during the cycling season, please meet an experience Pittsburgh Criminal Defense Lawyer who can help you out.
If you do find yourself in that situation, don’t hesitate to call my office. My associates and I are here to assist you. We can be reached at (412) 612-2210 or (412) 612-2210. You can also contact us online.
And to my friends at ABRA – I’m proud to be your sponsor again, and I wish you guys a great season!