The weather is improving, thank goodness, and that means that more and more people will be commuting via bicycle in Philadelphia and throughout the state. Already, Philadelphia is the city with the largest population of bicyclists. With the economy and rising gas prices, sources suggest that the number of cyclists will easily increase.
While there is certainly nothing inherently bad about riding a bike, the presence of bicycles on the crowded Philadelphia roads presents a traffic safety issue. Automobile drivers and bicyclists do not always share the roads like they should in order to avoid a car accident. A new law in the state aims to increase safety related to bicycling on Pennsylvania roads.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the new law requires vehicles to leave four feet of space between them and bicyclist. That even means that when drivers are feeling cramped in order to give that clearance, if there is no car in the oncoming lane, the driver can go over the yellow line without the fear of getting a ticket.
This new traffic law went into effect yesterday throughout the entire state. In the beginning, law enforcement will likely issue warnings to drivers whom they see violating the new clearance law. Should an extreme violation occur and a bicyclist gets hurt, however, an officer would likely not hesitate to take action and cite a driver.
As with any new law, this one has its supporters and its critics. The supporters see the law as simply putting on paper what responsible drivers should already be doing when driving around bicyclists.
But there are the critics who emphasize how bicyclists need to exercise more responsibility on the roads, too. Of course, it will take bicyclists and drivers to improve the safety on the roads. Safety on the roads is really all about sharing nicely, which is a lesson we all should have learned as children.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, “A new Pennsylvania law mandates that drivers give cyclists a wider berth,” Liz Gormisky, April 3, 2012