Bicycle Information
Pennsylvania Bicycle Driver's Manual - Foreward

This manual will teach you safe bicycling on public roads and streets. To do so requires the ability to process information about traffic conditions on a continuous basis, as you ride along, just as when driving an automobile.That skill is far more developed in residents age 16 and older because they are more likely to possess a Pennsylvania Driver's License.

However, keep in mind that the Rules-of-the Road apply to drivers of vehicles regardless of the drivers age or vehicle type. If after reading this manual, you wish to apply the instruction but are under age 16 or do not possess a valid Pennsylvania Driver's License, it is recommended that you commence cycling in traffic only if you are in the company of someone who does possess a license and/or understands the principles of safe street bicycling taught in this manual.

Additional copies of this publication can be obtained through the following sources:
  • Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Sales Store (717) 787-6746
  • Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
  • Bureau of Highway Safety & Traffic Engineering Office
  • Safety and Management Division, (717) 878-6853

Title 75 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes contains the laws which govern the operation of vehicles on Pennsylvania roads. In Pennsylvania, a bicycle is considered a vehicle and, as such, is governed by a general set of rules (common to all vehicles) and a specific set of rules (designed for bicycles). The following annotated list provides all of the important sections of the Vehicle Code which a Pennsylvania bicyclist should know. Keep in mind that the laws themselves often describe only what a bicyclist is required to do, not how to do it. This manual addresses how to bicycle safely and efficiently by following the rules of the road.

Pedalcycle: A vehicle propelled soley by human-powered pedals. The term does not mean a three-wheeled human powered pedal-driven vehicle with a main driving wheel 20 inches in diameter or under and primarily designed for children six years of age or younger.

Comment: Pedalcycle is the legal terminology for a bicycle in Pennsylvania

Chapter 35 - Special Vehicles and Pedestrians
Subchapter A - Operation of Pedalcycles (Bicycles)
Section 3501. Applicability of traffic laws to pedalcycles.
(a) General rule. -- Every person riding a pedalcycle upon a roadway shall
be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable
to the driver of a vehicle by this title, except as to special provisions in this
subchapter and except as to those provisions of this title which by their
nature can have no application.

(b) Application of subchapter. -- The provisions of this subchapter apply
whenever a pedalcycle is operated upon any highway or upon any path set
aside for the exclusive use of pedalcycles subject to the exceptions stated in
subsection (a).
Comment: Bicycles are considered vehicles under Pennsylvania Laws and
must obey all the rules of the road which apply to vehicles.
These are the "responsibilities" mentioned above. The "rights"
refer to the roadway space required to operate the bicycle in a
safe, lawful manner.

Section 3502. Penalty for violation of subchapter.
Any person violating any provision of this subchapter is guilty of a summary
offense and shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to pay a fine of $10.

Section 3503. Responsibility of parent or guardian.
The parent of any child and the guardian of any ward shall not authorize or
knowingly permit the child or ward to violate any of the provisions of this
title relating to the operation of pedalcycles.

Section 3504. Riding on pedalcycles.
(a) Use of seat by operator. -- A person propelling a pedalcycle shall not
ride other than upon or astride a permanent and regular seat attached to the

(b) Number of riders. -- No pedalcycle shall be used to carry more persons
at one time than the number for which the pedalcycle is designed and
equipped, except that an adult rider may transport a child in a pedalcycle or
in a child carrier which is securely attached to the pedalcycle or in a trailer
which is towed by a pedalcycle.
Section 3505.
(a) General rule. -- Except as provided in subsections (b) and (c), every
person operating a pedalcycle upon a highway shall obey the applicable rules
of the road as contained in this title.
Comment: This statement reiterates the necessity for cyclists to conform
to the expectations of other road users in order to ensure the
safety of all.

(b) Operation on shoulder. -- A pedalcycle may be operated on the
shoulder of a highway and shall be operated in the same direction as
required of vehicles operated on the roadway.
Comment: A bicycle may be operated on either a shoulder or on the
roadway (the travel lanes). The locations will be based upon
traffic volume, the physical condition of the travel lanes or the
shoulder, traffic speed, the bicyclist's intended direction, and
other safety factors.

(c) Slower than prevailing speeds.-- A pedalcycle operated at
slower than prevailing speed shall be operated in accordance with the
provisions of Section 3301(b), unless it is unsafe to do so.

[3301(b). Vehicle proceeding at less than normal speed.
Upon all roadways, any vehicles proceeding at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place under the conditions than existing shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic, or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction or when preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into an alley, private road or driveway. This subsection does not apply to a driver who must necessarily drive in a lane other than the right-hand lane to continue on his intended route.]

Comment: Taken together, 3505 (c) and 3301 (b) state that slower vehicles should keep to the right, which is the normal expectation of all road users, while permitting bicyclists to make movements consistent with their intended route.

(d) One-way roadways. -- Any person operating a pedalcycle upon a
roadway, which carries traffic in one direction only and has two or more
marked traffic lanes, may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of the
roadway as practicable, exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle
or one proceeding in the same direction.

Comment: Bicycles may ride in the left lane of a one-way street which
contains two or more lanes. However, this does not apply to
pedalcyclists on freeways. See Section 3511(d), below.
(e) Limitation on riding abreast. -- Persons riding pedalcycles upon a
roadway shall not ride more than two abreast, except on paths or parts of
roadways set aside for the exclusive use of pedalcycles.

Section 3506.
No person operating a pedalcycle shall carry any package, bundle or article
which prevents the driver from keeping at least one hand upon the

Section 3507. Lamps or other equipment on pedalcycles.
(a) Lamps and reflectors. -- Every pedalcycle when in use between sunset and sunrise shall be equipped on the front with a lamp which emits a beam of white light intended to illuminate the pedalcycle operator's path and visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front, a red reflector facing to the rear which shall be visible at least 500 feet to the rear, and an amber reflector on each side. Operators of pedalcycles may supplement the required front lamp with a white flashing lamp, light-emitting diode or similar device to enhance their visibility to other traffic and with a lamp emitting a red flashing lamp, light-emitting diode or similar device visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear. A lamp or lamps worn by the operator of a pedalcycle shall comply with the requirements of this subsection if the lamp or lamps can be seen at the distances specified.

Comment: Many car-bike crashes occur at night and involve a poorly
illuminated bicyclist. Bicyclists should understand that
headlamps serve two purposes: a) primarily, they advise other
road users of their presence (vitally important to prevent
unsuspecting motorists from cutting across the paths of cyclists
they cannot even detect), b) secondarily, illuminate the
bicyclist’s path

(b) Audible signal devices.--A pedalcycle may be equipped with a device capable of giving a signal audible for a distance of at least 100 feet except that pedalcycle shall not be equipped with nor shall any person use upon a pedalcycle any siren.

(c) Brakes.--Every Pedalcycle shall be equipped with a braking system which will stop the pedelcycle in 15 feet from a initial speed of 15 miles per hour on a dry, level and clean pavement.

Section 3508. Pedalcycles on sidewalks and pedalcycle paths.
(a) Right-of-way to pedestrians.-- A person riding a pedalcycle upon a
sidewalk or pedalcycle path used by pedestrians shall yield the right-of-way
to any pedestrian and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and
passing a pedestrian.

(b) Business districts.-- A person shall not ride a pedalcycle upon a
sidewalk in a business district unless permitted by official traffic-control
devices, nor when a usable pedalcycle-only lane has been provided adjacent
to the sidewalk.

Section 3509. Parking.
(a) Sidewalks.
(1) A person may park a pedalcycle on a sidewalk unless prohibited
or restricted by an official traffic-control device.
(2) A pedalcycle parked on a sidewalk shall not impede the normal
and reasonable movement of pedestrian or other traffic.

(b) Roadways.
(1) A pedalcycle may be parked on the roadway at any angle to the
curb or edge of the roadway at any location where parking is allowed.
(2) A pedalcycle may be parked on the roadway abreast of another
pedalcycle or pedalcycles near the side of the roadway at any location
where parking is allowed.
(3) A person shall not park a pedalcycle on a roadway in such a
manner as to obstruct the movement of a legally parked motor
(4) In all other respects, pedalcycles parked anywhere on a
highway shall conform with the provisions of Subchapter E of Chapter
33 (relating to stopping, standing and parking).

Section 3510. Pedalcycle helmets for certain persons.
(a) General rule.-- A person under 12 years of age shall not operate a
pedalcycle or ride as a passenger on a pedalcycle unless the person is
wearing a pedalcycle helmet meeting the standards of the American
Standards Institute, the American Society for Testing and Materials, the
Snell Memorial Foundation's Standards for Protective Headgear for Use in
Bicycling or any other nationally recognized standard for pedalcycle helmet
approval. This subsection shall also apply to a person who rides:

(1) upon a pedalcycle while in a restraining seat attached to a
pedalcycle; or
(2) in a trailer towed by a pedalcycle.
Comment: The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation strongly
recommends that all bicyclists wear approved helmets
whenever they ride.
(b) Helmet to be labeled.--Any helmet sold or offered for sale for use by operators and passengers of pedalcycles shall be labeled in accordance with the standard described in subsection (a), which shall constitute the manufacturer's certification that the helmet conforms to the applicable safety standards.
(1) Sale of helmet.-- no person shall sell or offer for sale for use by an operator or passenger of a pedalcycle a helmet which is not a type meeting the requirements established by this section.
(2) Waiver of fine.--If a person receives a citation issued by the proper authority for violation of subsection (a), a district justice, magistrate of judge shall dismiss the charges if the person prior to or at his hearing displays evidence of acquisition of a helmet meeting the standards prescribed in subsection (a) to such district justice, magistrate or judge. Sufficient evidence shall include a receipt mailed to the appropriate court officer which evidences purchase or transfer of such a helmet from another helmet owner, evideinces by a notarized letter.
(3) Exemption.--This section shall not apply to a child under 12 years of age who can produce a statement from the family's church authorities attesting that it is against the tenets of the family religion to wear a helmet.

(c) Civil actions.--In no event shall a violation or alleged violation os subsection (a) be used as evidence in a trail of any civil action; nor shall any jury in civil action be instructed that any conduct did constitute or could be interpreted by them to constitute a violation of subsection (a); nor shall failure to use a pedalcycle helmet be considered as contributory negligence nor shall failure to use a pedalcycle helmet be admissible as evidence in the trail of any civil action.
(d) Penalty.--Notwithstanding any other provisions of law , any violation of subsection (a) is punishable by a fine, including all penalties, assessments and court costs imposed on the comvicted person not exceed $25. The parent or legal guardian having control or custody of person under 12 years of age whose conduct violates this section shall be jointly and severally liable with person for the amount of the fine imposed.
(e) Definitions.--As used in this section, the term "wearing a pedalcycle helmet" means having a pedalcycle helmet of good fit fastened securely upon the head with helmet straps.

Section 3511. Pedalcycles prohibited on freeways.
(a) General rule.-- No person shall ride a pedalcycle on a freeway.

(b) Exceptions.
(1) The department and local authorities, on highways under their respective jurisdictions, may issue permits for a procession or event prohibited under subsection (a) upon a determination that:
(i) The pedalcycle procession or event is of national, state, or regional interest; and
(ii) the results of an engineering and traffic study indicates that the procession or event can be conducted with safety.
(2) On State-designed freeways, pedalcycles may be authorized
under the following limitations:
(i) The pedalcycler is 16 years of age or older and is
accompanied by a pedalcycler 18 years of age or older.

(ii) A written request for review of the freeway route based
on the potential unavailability of a reasonable alternate
route is made to the department.

(iii) The department determines that no reasonable alternate
route exists.

(iv) The department publishes a notice in the Pennsylvania
Bulletin authorizing pedalcycle access to the freeway.
The notice shall constitute approval for the persons
authorized under subparagraph (i) to ride a pedalcycle on
the State-designated freeway.

(c) Action by local authorities.-- Action taken by local authorities
regarding permission to use pedalcycles on freeways under their
jurisdiction shall be:
(1) by ordinance of the local governing body; or
(2) by a commission or public official authorized to act on
specified matters.

(d) Operation on shoulder.- - If the department authorizes pedalcycle
access to a freeway, the pedalcycle shall be operated upon the
shoulder of that freeway whenever practicable.
Comment: Bicycles may be permitted on freeways in Pennsylvania with
permission of the Department. The applicant must submit a
written request (form) to the Department for review. In
addition, Section 3511(d) requires the bicycle to be ridden on
the shoulder of the freeway.

Section 3513. Civil immunity for lenders of pedalcycle helmets.
No person or organization who or which lends to another person or organization a pedalcycle helmet, as described in section 3510 (relating to pedalcycle helmets for certain persons), shall be liable for any civil damages resulting from any act or omission, except any act or omission intentionally designed to harm or any grossly negligent act or omission resulting in harm to another.

Section 3112. Traffic-control signals.
(c) Inoperable or malfunctioning signal.-If a traffic-control signal is out of operation or is not functioning properly, vehicular traffic facing a:
(1) Green or yellow signal my proceed with caution as indicated on subsection(a)(1) and (2).
(2) Red or completely unlighted signal shall stop in the same manner as a stop sign, and the right to proceed shall be subject to the rules applicable after making a stop at a stop sign as provided in section 3323 (relating to stop signs and yield signs).

Comment: Standard traffic signals sometimes do not detect bicycles, You may be unable to pass through a sigmalized intersection because the green signal is never received. When faced with this problem, you may treat the signal as malfunctioning and take the fillowing steps to safely proceed though the intersection. First, determime that the signal will not detect you . Try to position the bicycle directly over the saw cuts in the pavement behind the white painted "stop bar" at the head of the lane. These cuts, which often take the shape of a elongated hexagon, contain the loop wires that detect vehicles. If no cuts are evident, you may have to guess their location. Wait for a complete cycle of the signal through all legs of the intersection. If you still believe that the signal will not detect you, treat the red signal as a stop sign and proceed through the intersection only after yeilding the right -of-way to all intersecting traffic (including pedestrians) that may be close enough to constitut a hazard during the time when you are moving across or within the intersection or junction of roadways.

Section 3336. Method of giving hand and arm signals. All signals given by hand and arm shall be given from the left side of the vehicle in the following manner except as indicated for pedalcycles and motorcycles and the signals shall indicate as follows:
(1) For a left turn, the hand and arm shall be extended horizonally.
(2) For a right turn, the left hand and arm shall be extended upward, except operators of motorcycles and pedalcycles may also be permitted to signal a right turn by extending the right hand and arm horizonally.
(3) To stop or decrease speed, the left hand and arm shall be extended downward.