Adding bike lanes is more than just a clean air initiative. For Pennsylvania Rep. Ron Miller, adding a buffer for cyclists – the goal of his “Safe Passing” bicycle bill – is intended to make the road safer for bikers and drivers alike.
A majority of the state legislature passed the law in February, 2012, winning Miller the support of many bike advocates and reaffirming Pennsylvania’s stance as a Bike Friendly State. However, the effectiveness of the law is arguable, as only 42 citations have been issued since the law took effect over two years ago.
The law requires drivers to leave a 4 foot margin between themselves and cyclists at all times. They must reduce their speed when passing bicycles, and cannot cut of a cyclist by making a sharp turn. Likewise, cyclists are bound by the law to make all possible efforts to maintain the regular flow of traffic. Violations result in a $25 fine.
Miller anticipated difficulties enforcing this law, especially because it can be difficult to determine the exact distance between moving vehicles at a moment in the past. However, he had hoped that the law would have a more marked effect on reducing car-related bike accidents. At the present, it is unclear whether or not that has happened.
Though it’s difficult to enforce, and the progress is difficult to track, Miller and the Pennsylvania State Legislature have high hopes for the new bike buffers. Even if citations are being handed out left and right, the law should make bother drivers and cyclists aware of their responsibilities on the road, teaching them to take personal accountability for their actions.
Written by Shayna Keyles