Thursday, February 12, 2009

PA Bikes and Walks, a new statewide bicycle and pedestrian advocacy group that WalkBikeBerks is a member of, has released an important action alert.

An upcoming piece of legislation proposes to make two important changes to the vehicle code:
1) a "4 foot passing law," requiring motor vehicles to pass cyclists with a minimum of 4 feet
2) a law protecting cyclists from the dreaded "right hook," where a motorist passes a cyclist on the left and turns right into the bike's path.

There is also a proposed amendment to add protection to all "vulnerable users," such as buggies and pedestrians walking in areas without a sidewalk, and not just limit it to cyclists, but this has yet to be been added.

right hookAlthough we think it's common sense for drivers to pass with a minimum of four feet and never make a right turn in front of a cyclist, these laws are intended to to protect us in the unfortunate event that it should happen. All too often the cyclist is blamed for any crash (just ask someone who's been in one), and often has little to no recourse or support from the law. These two scenarios are the top two most common motor vehicle-cyclist incidents.

The League of American Bicyclists cites the lack of these laws as one of the primary reasons that Pennsylvania is ranked as the 38th most bike friendly (or 13th worst) State in the Union.

We have an opportunity in this legislative session to pass a bill that will greatly improve bicycling safety in Pennsylvania, as well as improve the state's reputation. Last session, The Bicycle Access Council initiated HB2689 that included provisions to include these amendments.

The prime sponsor, Rep. Ron Miller, is reintroducing this bill very soon. It is imperative to have the bill co-sponsored by as many of the 203 House members as possible. As of February 6th, there were only 6 co-sponsors.


A sample letter follows but try to personalize the letter, especially if you have had an experience with a vehicle being driven too close to you or a “right hook."

HB2689 can be viewed at

Go to bill information and select 2007-2008 session and enter HB2689.


(Thanks Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia for writing it)
Dear _____________:

I support legislation that is being introduced by Rep. Ron Miller that will require motorists, when changing lanes is not possible, to give at least four feet of clearance when passing a bicyclist. It also requires a motorist who is making a right turn not to interfere with a bicyclist who is traveling straight. This is the same legislation as HB2689 from last session.

Your co-sponsorship of Rep. Miller’s legislation will be greatly appreciated.

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